Belgium’s Data Protection Authority imposed a fine on Google of €600,000. The fine is more than ten times higher than the highest fine imposed so far by the DPA. APD also ordered Google to stop referencing the pages inside Europe, and provide clearer information on which entities are responsible for handling “right to be forgotten” requests.
Why DPA imposed a fine on Google?
The news articles, which appeared in results linked to the person’s name, associated with unfounded complaints of harassment. Google did not remove links from its search results to articles which APD said were “obsolete” and damaging to the reputation of an individual with a public profile in Belgium.
The EU’s top court enshrined the “right to be forgotten” principle in 2014 when it ruled that individuals could ask search engines like Google to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for their names. For this reason, DPA imposed a fine on Google.
Hielke Hijmans, Director of the DPA’s Litigation Chamber said “The right to be forgotten must strike the correct balance between, on the one hand, the public’s right of access to information and, on the other hand, the rights and interests of the data subject”. “Since the allegations against the plaintiff were not established, are old and are likely to have serious consequences for the complainant, the rights and interests of the person concerned must prevail,” he added.
Google spokesman said, “We didn’t believe this case met the European Court of Justice’s criteria for delisting published journalism from search — we thought it was in the public’s interest that this reporting remain searchable”.