Google fined €7m for GDPR non-compliance

The penalty concerns the so-called 'right to be forgotten' under the General Data Protection Regulation

The Swedish Data Protection Authority (DPA) is imposing a fine of 75m Swedish Kroner (€7m) on Google for its failure to comply with the right to be forgotten under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Europe’s 2014 “right to be forgotten” regulation was designed to help people delist specific web pages that contain potentially “damaging” information. It means that people can have search result listings for searches that include his or her name removed if, for example, the inclusion of such details were shown to be inaccurate, irrelevant, or superfluous.

Since it took effect, Google has received millions of such requests, but it reports that fewer than half have been fulfilled. After a 2017 audit, which aimed to assess Google’s handling of individuals’ right to have search result listings that included their name removed, the DPA concluded that a number of search result listings should be removed and ordered Google to do so. Google however had failed to comply with orders to remove search listings, and said it is issuing a fine against the company.

“In one of the cases, Google has done a too narrow interpretation of what web addresses needed to be removed from the search result listing”, the DPA said in its statement. “In the second case, Google has failed to remove the search result listing without undue delay”, it added.

A spokesperson told the media that Google disagreed with the decision and planned to appeal. It has three weeks to do so, before the decision enters into force.  

“We disagree with this decision on principle and plan to appeal,” a Google spokesperson said.

It is Google’s second fine to date under Europe’s strict data privacy rules, after in 2019 it received a €50m fine from the French Data Protection Authority. It is also it’s the ninth highest penalty handed out to a company since the GDPR took effect in May 2018, according to the GDPR Enforcement Tracker.

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