Procedimiento Sancionador PS/00149/2016. Resolución R/02232/2016

Document type
Administrative Decision

In this administrative proceeding within the Spanish DPA (AEPD - Agencia Española de Protección de Datos), Google was fined in 150,000 Euros for communicating webmasters about the delisting of content based on data protection requests (Right to be Forgotten requests, based on the European and Spanish rights to cancellation and opposition). Building upon the guidelines issued by the Article 29 Working Party, the agency decided that a search engine does not have the legal obligation to inform webmasters and that the communication could render the request to be delisted inefficient, by allowing, among other things, the publisher to change the URL delisted or to create lists of URLs subject to de-indexed. 

When considering that Google would only inform that a URL was delisted based on the European data protection legislation, that the results would only be affected in the European versions of Google, and that the delisting would only take place in relation to specific search queries, the agency still found that this type of communication would amount to the processing of personal data (no extraordinary efforts would be required to identify the person who requested the delisting). The agency considered that the publisher does not have a right to be indexed and, therefore, would not have a legitimate interest to defend based on the communication that some results have been delisted based on a European Data Protection claim. 

The decision also initiated further investigation on the procedures used by the search engine to communicate the delistings to the Lumen database and the practice of informing the general public (on the search results) that the results are not complete.

For more information, see Miquel Peguera's post (in Spanish) and David Erdos' post (in English)

Topic, claim, or defense
Right to Be Forgotten
Document type
Administrative Decision
Issuing entity
Administrative Authority
Type of service provider
Search Engine or Index
Issues addressed
Trigger for OSP obligations
Procedural Protections for Users and Publishers
OSP obligation considered
Block or Remove
Type of liability
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Weakens Immunity
General intermediary liability model
Takedown/Act Upon Knowledge (Includes Notice and Takedown)