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Belgium fines Google €600,000 for data protection breach
Belgium's data protection authority has fined Google a record €600,000 for failing to comply with a European privacy law commonly known as the "right to be forgotten".
The regulator said Google had been "particularly negligent" when it refused a request to delete links in its search engine to websites containing unproven harassment claims about the complainant, a Belgian public figure.
The "right to be forgotten" gives EU citizens the power to request that search engines delete sensitive or out-of-date material about them that could harm their reputation.
The data protection authority said the fine against Google Belgium was the biggest it has ever issued.
The regulator agreed that Google was right to maintain several links to websites about the complainant's political past, given that he was a notable public figure.
But the authority said refusing to remove links to the harassment claims amounted to a "serious breach".
"Since the claims had not been proven, and are old, they were likely to have serious repercussions for the complainant," the ruling said. "The rights and interests of the person concerned must prevail."