Pass Notes on the proposed Google / Fitbit merger

Google knows so much about you, and now it wants your health data too. Read our ‘Pass Notes’ for a quick summary of the issues and then please join our campaign to stop them!

Key points
  • Google wants to buy Fitbit, but needs approval from the European Commission
  • Google already has too much data about us all, and we don't want them to now grab our health data too
  • You can join the 'NOT ON OUR WATCH!' campaign to stop the merger!
News & Analysis
Googbit phone graphic

Name: Google/Fitbit merger

Age: Gestating

Appearance: A bit dodgy. One of the world’s biggest tech giants, trying to purchase a company that makes fitness tracking devices, and therefore has huge amounts of our health data.

I don’t get it. Basically Google is trying to buy Fitbit. As if Google doesn’t already have enough data about us, it now wants huge amounts of health data too.

Oh, Fitbit, that’s that weird little watch-type-thing that people get for Christmas, wear for about a month while they walk a bit faster than normal, and then forget about along with their other New Year resolutions? Yup, that’s the one. Fitbits, and other similar products, collect sensitive data about your daily routine, lifestyle and health, including, for example, your daily movements, heartrate, exercise, sleep pattern, payments, menstruation cycle etc.

Why would anyone want to have all that data about themselves? To help them get fit a bit maybe, I don’t know to be honest. But that’s not important. What IS important is that Google wants your data, and they’re willing to spend €1.86bn on it.

What? Google wants to give ME €1.86bn for my data? No, you numpty. I mean you really should value your personal data, but not that much. No, Google are buying Fitbit, including all data they hold about Fitbit users, for €1.86bn.

Wait, that’s a hell of a lot for a device that tracks your heartbeat. This smells fishy. That’s because it is. Fitbit is just another acquisition that will give Google access to hugely valuable sensitive data about us. Google already knows too much about us and this data will make its digital dominance even stronger. For example, unprecedented access to our sensitive health data might mean more data to draw correlations from, build profiles or even train algorithms.

Right, so they will keep track of my…erm …‘movements’ when I watch porn? I’m asking for a friend. Potentially, yeah. They may even be able to associate your physiological reactions with what your browse, especially when you’re shopping or when you watch advertisements, to see what makes you…tick.

Should I be surprised? I mean we already knew Google was creepy. Fitbit already has partnerships with private health insurance companies. What if this was extended to national healthcare systems, for example? There’s a race taking place among big tech to jump into health data; and, Google is no exception. After all it’s not like we haven’t seen governments signing deal with big tech companies in an attempt at reducing the cost of healthcare.

OK, so who you gonna call? The deal is currently being investigated by the Australian Competition and also by the European Commission. We have intervened before the Australian regulator. PI will now be seeking to intervene before the European Commission too.

Do say: "Ok, Google, stop tracking me. Yes, I am hungover and I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep. And no, I’m not going for a run, but thanks for the suggestion."

Don’t say: "I don’t care, I use an Apple Watch".