Google hit with €600,000 Belgian privacy fine

The Belgian data protection authority has imposed a record fine of € 600,000 on Google for not dereferencing pages in its search engine under the right to be forgotten. They relate to an obsolete complaint against a public figure.


The Belgian data protection authority (APD) sanctions Google (Belgium) with a fine of € 600,000 for non-compliance with a citizen’s right to be forgotten. It is otherwise known as the right to be dereferenced by search engines.

According to the APD, a complainant playing a role in public life in Belgium had asked Google Belgium to delete search results linked to his name on the search engine.

“Part of the pages he wanted to see dereferenced relates to a possible political labeling, which the complainant refutes; a second part relates to a complaint of harassment against him, declared unfounded many years ago,” writes the APD in a press release.

Google decided not to dereference anything. In the public interest, the ADP agreed with Google regarding the pages on political labeling, but not for the pages concerning the old complaint which was directed against the complainant and for which the facts have not been established.

For the Belgian data protection authority, Google reported a “serious breach” by refusing the dereference and “negligence” insofar as there was in its possession “evidence of the irrelevant and outdated character of facts.

In addition to the record fine of € 600,000 imposed by the ODA, the authority orders Google to dereference the pages concerned in Europe and to clarify its forms for requests for dereference.

Google is contesting the decision and should appeal. For Google, maintaining the referencing of all pages is indeed in the public interest.

In France, the Council of State had annulled last March the sanction of 100,000 € imposed by the Cnil on Google for not having made effective the right to the dereferencing to the whole of the national versions of its search engine. It is limited to European versions only.