The Belgian data protection authority announced today that it has imposed a fine of € 600,000 on the company Google Belgium for lack of compliance with the right to be forgotten, requested by a citizen.
In a historic decision to protect personal data, this was the highest fine imposed by that authority to date, as explained by the institution in a statement, quoted by AFP.
The citizen who filed the complaint, whose identity has not been revealed, but who is presented as a public figure, asked Google Belgium to “disassociate obsolete articles that damaged his reputation” found through that company’s search engines, the statement said.
“Part of the pages that he wanted to see disassociated from his name relate to possible political labeling, which he refutes. A second part refers to a harassment complaint against him, which was declared unfounded many years ago,” he adds. the statement.
“Google made the decision not to remove the reference from any of the pages in question,” explained the data protection authority, who held the company responsible for a “serious breach” by refusing to disassociate the pages related to the report of harassment, because “the facts have not been proved, they are old and probably have serious repercussions” for the complainant.
“Google was negligent, given that the company had evidence of irrelevance and outdated facts,” said litigation chamber president Hielke Hijmans, who led the process.
“This decision is historic for the protection of personal data in Belgium, not only for the value of the penalty, but also because it ensures that the complete and effective protection of the citizen is maintained in cases related to large international groups, such as Google, which has a very complex structure”, said Hielke Hijmans.
The head of Belgium’s data protection authority, David Stevens, stressed that the decision “is not only important for Belgian citizens, but is also proof of the ambition to better protect online privacy in collaboration with European partners, the which requires concrete actions against active players worldwide “.