Google Handed A Record Privacy Fine From Belgium

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The Belgian protection authority has handed Google a record fine for breach EU privacy regulations. Bloomberg reports that Google has received a 600,000 euros ($681,400) fine for its behaviour.

The fine was for failing to delete links regulators deemed harmful to a person’s reputation. The breaches the European Union’s right to be forgotten regulation.

This comes in the midst of quite a chaotic week for Google. First, an Australian regulator accused the company of failing to abide by data privacy regulations. It has also emerged how the company has lobbied federal policy over recent years. This latest blow will come as the last thing Google wants to see.


Record Privacy Fine For Google

The report by the Belgian data protection authority found that Google was “grossly negligent” in its behaviour. By not removing links to articles that involved unproven harassment claims the company was in breach of regulations.

This, in essence, meant that Google did not do enough to protect those that had had their reputations unfairly damaged in the past. These articles surfaced 10 years ago but Google had allowed them to stay despite the fact that the claims were unproven.

The Belgian authority said this was the largest fine it has ever imposed. A private individual backed the complaint who reportedly “plays a role in Belgian public life”. This person sought to remove these links in what regulators called “political labelling”


Google continues to fight ‘right to be forgotten’ regulation

The EU brought in the ‘right to be forgotten’ regulation back in 2014. This forced Google to remove links to websites that contain out of date or false information that could unfairly harm a person’s reputation.

Since then the company has fought many top European regulators over the imposition of this clause. Google responded to the decision in an emailed statement. The company said, “We didn’t believe this case met the European Court of Justice’s criteria for delisting published journalism from search”.

It also went on to point out that “we thought it was in the public’s interest that this reporting remain searchable”. However, Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, said it planned to challenge the decision.


In doing so it hoped that they could “strike a sensible, principled balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy.”

The behaviour surrounding privacy issues are coming increasingly under scrutiny. Man big tech companies are facing pressure to reform their practices to fall in line with expectations. How this all plays out in the next few months could have a huge impact on well-known companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and others.