Google is ready to appeal a 75 Million Kroner (£5.35 million) fine levied against it in the Swedish Court of Law. The Data Protection Authority in Sweden fined Google for failure to remove results related to the ‘right to be forgotten’ requests. These were valid requests under the rights and liberties granted to citizens of the EU under the GDPR framework.
Sweden’s privacy watchdog imposed this fine a few days ago, although this case has been in and out of the agency since 2017. Google did not respond to legal requests in an adequate manner which caused the fines. The Data Protection Authority was able to prove in a court of law that Google was bound to respond to the requests under the law.
This issue came to public attention in 2017. Whereas the EU’s right-to-be-forgotten regulation was introduced and enacted in 2014. Google has been a frequent target of disciplinary actions under the GDPR. Google is not the only search engine that is required to hide content and links should the data subject or the consumer request that it be deleted.
Under the GDPR, members of the European Union may request copies of any data that an organisation may be holding on them. They may also request for this data to be reviewed or deleted. The ability to request the erasure of data relating to you is known as an individual’s “right to be forgotten”. However, this is not an absolute right, like every other liberty.
The issue remained unresolved for years despite a follow-up audit in 2018. The agency concluded that the attempt to resolve the issue on Google’s part was inadequate and lacked effectiveness.
The agency’s report suggested: “In one of the cases, Google has done a too narrow interpretation of what web addresses need to be removed from the search result listing. In the second case, Google has failed to remove the search result listing without undue delay”.
The Swedish regulator identified Google’s practice of inadequately informing the websites’ owners as part why there was a failure in terms of the “right to be forgotten”. When Google warned the websites about the link removal of the content, the owners moved that data elsewhere. Thus, the different web addresses changed, but not the results.
However, during this week Google’s spokesperson stated that: “We disagree with this decision on principle and plan to appeal.”
The fine from Sweden’s authorities is relatively small given the magnitude of Google’s economic power. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why there was a lesser effort in solving it. Google has been fined by other countries under the GDPR laws for numerous cases, this includes France, the UK and Ireland. The question is whether Google will be able to waive off its fine or not.