Right to be forgotten: Belgium fines Google 600,000 euros

It is a request for deletion by a Belgian personality. She complains about links to newspaper articles with allegedly false claims. The Belgian data protection authority sees all necessary criteria for deletion fulfilled. Google is now seeking a judicial decision.

The Belgian data protection authority has fined Google 600,000 euros. The internet company is said not to have responded to a deletion request regarding the right to be forgotten by an undisclosed Belgian personality.

Google (Image: Google)The person apparently in public had Google asked to remove links to several newspaper articles from his search index. They are intended to contain unproven claims and political statements about the person that are not intended to be representative of their beliefs.

The right to be forgotten stems from a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2014. EU citizens have the right to have links to websites and articles removed that contain incorrect or outdated information that can harm citizens’ reputation. Links do not have to be removed if the information is correct or in the public interest – taking into account the right to privacy of the applicant.

The Belgian data protection officers see Google’s refusal to delete the case as a serious violation of the court decision. “As the matter has not yet been clarified and is old and is likely to have a serious impact on the complainant, the rights and interests of the person concerned must take precedence,” the authority explained the fine.

Google has announced that it will take action against the decision by Belgian data protection experts. “Since 2014, we’ve been working hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe and strike a reasonable, principled balance between people’s rights to access to information and privacy,” said a company spokesman. “We did not believe that this case met the European Court of Justice’s criteria for the deletion of published journalistic articles from the search function – we thought it was in the public interest that this reporting should remain searchable. We will ask the courts to decide. ”

The right to be forgotten concerns European courts time and again. For a long time it was controversial whether it should only be used in Europe or worldwide. While Google tries to ensure that disputed links appear in Europe regardless of the version of the Google search engine, these measures can be avoided. Nevertheless, the ECJ ruled in September 2019 that the right to be forgotten does not apply worldwide. National authorities should only be able to instruct this in individual cases.


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