Google Inc fined SEK 75 million

On 10/Mar/2020, Google LLC received a privacy fine of SEK 75,000,000. The enforcement authority (Swedish Data Protection Authority) has cited these legal provisions in imposing the fine on Google LLC: Article 17 GDPR/GDPR/

Essentials

Date of enforcement action:
10/Mar/2020
Jurisdiction: Fine imposed:
Sweden Flag for Sweden, which is the jurisdiction taking enforcement action SEK 75,000,000 (US$7,200,000)
Defendant company or entity: Industry segment:
Google LLC Technology /

Case summary

The Swedish Data Protection Authority imposes a fine of 75 million Swedish kronor (approximately 7 million euro) on Google for failure to comply with the GDPR. Google as a search engine operator has not fulfilled its obligations in respect of the right to request delisting.

In 2017 the Swedish Data Protection Authority (DPA) finalised an audit concerning how Google handles individuals’ right to have search result listings for searches that includes their name removed from Google’s search engine in case of for example lack of accuracy, relevance or if considered superfluous. In its decision the DPA concluded that a number of search result listings should be removed and subsequently ordered Google to do so.

In 2018, due to indications that Google had not fully complied with the previously issued order, the DPA initiated a follow-up audit. This audit is now finalised and the DPA is issuing a fine against Google.

The General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, increases the level of responsibility for organisations that collect and process personal data, and strengthens the rights of individuals. An important part of those rights is the possibility for individuals to have their search result delisted. We have found that Google is not fully complying with its obligations in relation to this data protection right, says Lena Lindgren Schelin, Director General at the Swedish DPA.

The Swedish Data Protection Authority is critical to the fact that Google did not properly remove two of the search result listings that the DPA had ordered them to remove back in 2017. 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. In the second case Google has failed to remove the search result listing without undue delay.

When Google removes a search result listing, it notifies the website to which the link is directed in a way that gives the site-owner knowledge of which webpage link was removed and who was behind the delisting request. This allows the site-owner to re-publish the webpage in question on another web address that will then be displayed in a Google search. This in practice puts the right to delisting out of effect.

In its delisting request form Google states that the site-owner will be notified of the request in a way that might result in individuals refraining from exercising their right to request delisting, thereby undermining the effectiveness of this right, says Olle Pettersson, legal advisor at the Swedish DPA who has participated in this audit of Google.

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.

(Swedish DPA)

Applicable legal provisions

Enforcement information

Enforcement authority: Type of enforcement action:
Swedish Data Protection Authority Flag for Sweden, which is the jurisdiction taking enforcement action Penalty notice
Subject to appeal?
Yes (Google may appeal the decision of the Swedish DPA within three weeks. If Google decides not to appeal, the decision will enter into force by the end of that time period)

File or case number

DI-2018-9274

Cite this fine in your work

Data Privacy Fines Index. (2020-03-10 11:14) Google Inc fined SEK 75 million. dataprivacyfines.com. Retrieved from https://dataprivacyfines.com/fine/google-inc-fined-sek-75-million/

Entry last updated: 2020-03-19 11:40 GMT.