Sweden fines Google $8 million for violating the right-to-be-forgotten law

Google Search on Android
Google Search on Android (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Sweden's Data Protection Authority has fined Google 75 million kronor or $8 million over violations of the right-to-be-forgotten law.
  • It has also issued Google a cease and desist order over informing website owners when a URL has been delisted from its search results.
  • Google has stated it will appeal the fine with a spokesperson saying, "We disagree with this decision on principle and plan to appeal."

Sweden is the latest country to use Europe's General Data Protection Regulation to fine Google. On March 11, 2020, the Data Protection Authority of Sweden issued a fine to Google for 75 million kronor or $8 million.

The exact reasoning behind the fine stems from two instances where Google had not removed search listings from requests using the right-to-be-forgotten law. In 2017 the Swedish DPA performed an audit and "concluded that a number of search result listings should be removed and subsequently ordered Google to do so." Then, in 2018, the DPA followed up with another audit and found that Google had still not fully complied and decided to issue a fine to the company

Along with fining the search giant, Sweden is also requesting that Google go a step further and stop informing site owners when a URL has been removed. Currently, when Google delists a webpage from its search results, it informs the owner of the site what page is being removed and who requested it.

This practice gives the site owner the opportunity to move the information to another URL that is still accessible through Google Search, and essentially nullifies the right-to-be-forgotten law. That is why the DPA is now issuing Google a cease and desist order against informing site-owners when it delists a webpage.

Google does not have a legal basis for informing site-owners when search result listings are removed and furthermore gives individuals misleading information by the statement in the request form. That is why the DPA orders Google to cease and desist from this practice.

Google has three weeks to appeal the fine and has already confirmed with VentureBeat that it plans to do so. According to a Google spokesperson, "We disagree with this decision on principle and plan to appeal."

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