EU fart bit, Google Fit Bit

Yes, we leap left, we leap right and as we see options for choice, we also see options for neglect. In Reuters we see “Google’s parent company Alphabet agreed a $2.1bn (£1.6bn) takeover of the wearable tech firm last year. However, the deal has yet to be completed”, we see that at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53647570, and as we see the BBC article, we wonder about a lot more. Yes we acknowledge “While the European Commission has said its main concern is the “data advantage” Google will gain to serve increasingly personalised ads via its search page”, and in the matter of investigations we see:

  • The effects of the merger on Europe’s nascent digital healthcare sector
  • Whether Google would have the means and ability to make it more difficult for rival wearables to work with its Android operating system.

From there there are two paths, for me personally the first one is Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, to be honest, I do not trust her. I will admit right off the bat that this is personal, but her deal relying on what was requires her to get a win, any win. The setting is founded on “officials acknowledge that the EU’s competition enforcer faces hard choices after judges moved to quash her order for the US tech company to pay back €14.3bn in taxes to Ireland”, which was a juridical choice, but in all this she needs a win and I reckon she will do whatever er she can to get any of the FAANG group. For the most I would be on her side in the tax case, but on the other side the entire sweep of the Google Fitbit leaves me with questions.

The first point is on ‘effects of the merger’, so how is this in regards to the Apple Smart Watch, the Huawei smart watch (android), and a few other versions, how much investigation did Apple get? How much concern is there for Huawei? Then we see the second part ‘Whether Google would have the means and ability’, it is not a wrong position for Margrethe Vestager to take, but as he does it upfront, in light of the EU inactions regarding IBM and Microsoft, it seems weird that this happens upfront now (well to me it does). And as we see ‘difficult for rival wearables to work with its Android operating system’ I see Huawei and the solutions they have, Android solutions no less, so why is Google the problem? 

Then there are two other parts. The first one is “Analysts suggested part of the attraction for Google was the fact that Fitbit had formed partnerships with several insurers in addition to a government health programme in Singapore”, the second one is “Google has explicitly denied its motivation is to control more data”, in all this there is less investigation in regards to what data goes to Singapore, or better stated the article makes no mention towards it, and as I see it, there is no mention on it from the office of Margrethe Vestager either. The second part is how Google explicitly denies its part, yet that denial does not give us anything towards the speculated “its motivation is to have access to more data”, and when you decide on a smart watch, data will end up somewhere and the statements are precise (something that worries me), I have no issue with Google having access, but the larger issue is not Google, it is ‘partnerships with several insurers’, the idea of privacy is not seen remarked upon by Margrethe Vestager and her posse of goose feather and ink-jar wielders, the focus is Google and is seemingly absent from investigations into Fitbit pre-Google in an age where the GDPR is set to be gospel, so who are the insurers and where are they based? Issues we are unlikely to get answers on. Yet when we consider “John Hancock, the U.S. division of Canadian insurance giant Manulife, requires customers to use activity trackers for life insurance policies in their Vitality program if they want to get discounts on their premiums and other perks”, so what happens when that data can be accessed? Is the larger stage not merely ‘What we consent to’, but a stage where the insurer has a lessened risk, but we see that our insurance is not becoming cheaper, there is the second stage that those not taking that path get insurance surcharge. So what has the EU done about that? We can accept that this is not on the plate of Margrethe Vestager, but it is on someones plate and only now, when Google steps in do we see action? 

So whilst the old farts at the EU are taking a gander at what they can get, I wonder what happens to all the other parts they are not looking at. Should Google acquire my IP, with access to 440,000,000 retailers and well over 1,500,000,000 consumers, will they cry murder? Will they shout unfair? Perhaps thinking out of the box was an essential first requirement and Fitbit is merely a stage to a much larger pool that 5G gives, but as they listened to the US, they can’t tell, not until 2022, at that point it is too late for the EU, I reckon that they get to catch on in 2021 when they realise that they are losing ground to all the others, all whilst they could have been ahead of the game, lets say a Hail Mary to those too smitten by ego. 

 

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