The full Senate endorsed yesterday the new law of Data Protection and ignored the voices of alarm over the amendment -introduced in Congress- that allows political parties or electoral groups to track personal data and political opinions of users on web pages and social networks to develop ideological profiles during electoral periods. This collection of information will serve to offer personalized propaganda, a practice that before being put into operation has already been considered as electoral spam.
The new law of Data Protection affects a dozen laws of great depth, including the Organic Law of the General Electoral System (Loreg), which incorporates an article (58bis) that recognizes that "the collection of personal data related to the political opinions of the persons carried out by political parties within the framework of their electoral activities will be covered by public interest only when offer adequate guarantees. " In addition, they can send voters through any digital medium -from WhatsApp, to emails through the accounts of social networks- electoral propaganda since these shipments "will not be considered as business activity or communication".
In spite of the consensus that it obtained in the Congress, to its passage by the Senate the great agreement has been broken. The text was approved by 220 votes in favor and 21 against. During the debate, the Unidos Podemos group echoed the protests of groups of Internet users and digital rights experts, who see in the controversial article a legal formula for parties to "spy on citizens" by accessing the Internet. information that leaves its digital trail. "The law is a dangerous involution", warned its spokeswoman, Celia Cánovas, according to which it would be "very dangerous" for parties to have free access, without prior authorization, to make ideological profiles, store them and use them for purposes other than electoral ones, a situation that he described as "alarming" in the face of the proliferation of fake news on the part of extreme right formations. And he advanced that his group will appeal the text before the Constitutional Court.
Experts see in the article a formula for "spying on citizens"
Despite the nuances, the nationalists backed the article in question but left an open door to "fix" the controversial aspects in the subsequent regulation that will develop the law. This would try to avoid the violation of the rights of citizens. ERC argued that if there was "a small crack in the law" it would have to be sealed by the subsequent regulation.
Both the PSOE and the PP endeavored to present the text as a step forward in the protection of digital rights and refused to allow the processing of data. They consider that it is "a good law", in spite of the alarms that cause, and to deactivate the fears they used a statement issued hours before the beginning of the debate by the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD). This body tried to defuse the fears and said that the law "does not allow" the processing of personal data for the preparation of profiles based on political opinions and the sending of personalized information in this type of profile. "The project only allows the gathering by political parties of personal data related to political opinions to obtain information that allows them to press the concerns of citizens in order to be able to respond to them in their electoral proposals."
The norm protects the right to digital disconnection and oblivion
The AEPD emphasized that what is allowed is to send electoral propaganda without its content being able to be based on ideological or political profiles as long as "its electoral nature" is identified and the "free and easy exercise of its right of opposition" is guaranteed. .
Apart from this thorny article, the law recognizes, regulates and protects a broad catalog of rights in the digital domain, such as net neutrality, work disconnection, video surveillance, geolocation, the right to be forgotten, the digital testament and universal access to the Internet. In addition, it ensures the control, use and destination of personal data.