Google/Fitbit will monetise health data and harm consumers

CEPR Policy Insight No 107

Marc Bourreau, Cristina Caffarra, Zhijun Chen, Chongwoo Choe, Gregory S. Crawford, Tomaso Duso, Christos D. Genakos, Paul Heidhues, Martin Peitz, Thomas Rønde, Monika Schnitzer, Nicolas Schutz, Michelle Sovinsky, Giancarlo Spagnolo, Otto Toivanen, Tommaso Valletti, Thibaud Vergé

Google's modus operandi is by now well understood. Its history of systematic acquisitions across a vast array of disparate activities, bolted onto its original Search engine, are unified by a common aim: to enhance and protect its unique data empire, and enable its monetisation in ever-expanding applications. What is concerning is the prospect of Google becoming dominant in 'health tech', uniquely combining its existing data with that gathered from Fitbit and undermines the ability of others to compete. This Policy Insight, written by a set of leading economists who have wide-ranging experience in competition policy, highlights why the acquisition of FitBit by Google raises such unease for the future of the Health Tech sector. It considers remedies for regulatory intervention, and calls on the European Commission to remain a driving force in the enforcement and creation of merger policy in the digital era.