The same parliamentary groups that consider that personal data are “the manna of this century” and a commodity coveted “for those who want to invade privacy and manipulate it” have backed a law that allows parties to collect personal data about political opinions in the framework of their electoral activities to develop profiles of ideology. This option has sparked alarm. United we Can has announced that it will be the Constitutional and the European Commission shall monitor with a magnifying glass the standard to prevent breaches of the community regulation on privacy.
With the personal information on a huge range of political opinions obtained in web pages, and other sources accessible to the public, the Data Protection Act and Guarantee of Digital Rights, approved in November —with the votes of PSOE, PP, Citizens and the nationalist basques and catalans— authorizes parties to send advertising through e-mail, WhatsApp or networks. These submissions will not be considered activity or commercial communication and the recipients may object to receiving them. According to the standard, these activities should be covered in the “public interest” and the “adequate safeguards”. But experts argue that opens the door to spam elections and doubt that secure the control, use and destination of the data and hinder any kind of use harmful, as touted by their advocates.
Among the most critical, Borja Adsuara, a professor and expert on law and digital strategy, believes that the body is a “scandal” and advances that are being studied by the committee of european data protection agencies. Also the Spanish is attentive. Your responsible, Sea, Spain, holds that from the agency that you go watch the games because the law does not allow them to do profiling ideological, but yes send propaganda is not custom without prior authorization. According to his interpretation, the parties do not can profile data, ideological, sexual, religious, or any other type that people are giving through their navigation on the Internet or in social networks. The breach of this rule may result in fines of 20 million euros.
But the third final provision of the law, which amends article 58 of the Organic law of General Electoral Regime (Goel) leaves little room for doubt. Those who defend it are supported in recital 56 of the EU regulation: “If, in the course of electoral activities, the operation of the democratic system requires in a member State that political parties collect personal data on the political views of the people, may be authorised to the treatment of such data for reasons of public interest, provided that they offer adequate guarantees”.
This same considering is that used by Adsuara, according to which the regulation only authorizes collecting personal data about political views if a democratic system was in danger. For example: “If there are any external interference that adulteren an election campaign by a network of bots organized. And it does not seem this is the case of Spain”.
In this line, the professor emeritus of Administrative Law at the Carlos III University Tomás de la Quadra-Salcedo points out that the regulation leaves member States a regulation that is to determine what is the public interest to allow the parties to gather political views and what are the guarantees. But it considers that the matter “deserves an open discussion in the Parliament and not an amendment that incorporates the forecast european without a debate clear and conscious of their consequences and scope”.
What it says in the article 58 bis
1. The collection of personal data relating to the political opinions of the persons carrying out the political parties in the framework of their electoral activities will be protected in the public interest only when you provide the appropriate guarantees.
2. The political parties, coalitions and electoral groupings may use personal data obtained in web pages, and other sources accessible to the public for the conduct of political activities during the election period.
3. The sending of electoral propaganda by electronic media, or messaging systems and the procurement of electoral propaganda in social networks or equivalent means shall not be considered activity or commercial communication.
4. The informative activities mentioned above will identify prominent manner, your nature of elections.
5. Will provide the recipient a simple way, and free exercise of the right of opposition.
The EU regulation provides for exceptions to the prohibition on processing data relating to political opinions, “but does so in a manner very vague and very questionable for the same reason,” says De la Quadra-Salcedo. And adds the article 58 bis mangled the meaning of the regulation by saying that there is public interest “when providing a guarantee”. “The guarantees do not have to provide the games; you have to fix the law,” she says, and asks: “How is guaranteed that only for the purposes of election, that you don't take copies, that is destroy the databases with the views for the future? Who watches?”. Therefore believes that the law shirking its obligation to implement the guarantees and leaves the door open for the parties to do so.
in Addition, he argues that a thing is the warranties and the other the public interest that justifies collecting data about political views to develop profiles ideological. In this case finds that the law should clearly specify if it is thought that these practices are useful for the formation of public opinion or debate.
After the article 58 bis, experts see the shadow of Cambridge Analityca. De la Quadra-Salcedo explains that practices of this and other digital companies aimed at confirming the people in their convictions —covering the entirety of the information that would benefit a party or that it would hurt the that wants to do the campaign, “doesn't seem to go in the sense of the public interest of a well-informed opinion, but segmented, and manipulated.”
Also Adsuara believes that with the text in hand could be done “legally” activities such as the Cambridge Analityca, the company that sent bulk false news with the data obtained from the users of Facebook without their consent. But in the Spanish case, “it would be lawful because of the consent of the users, is granted to the political parties with a legal authorization”. Adsuara goes a step further and ensures that the amendment introduced at the last hour seeks to legalize a ppractices that already were doing. For de la Quadra-Salcedo is possible that it has been done with good intention, thinking that it is better to regulate the phenomenon before you continue to look the other way.
also, Carlos Sanchez Almeida, a lawyer and member of the Platform in Defence of the Freedom of Information, believes that the law is extralimita respect to a regulation that makes it clear “that it is prohibited the creation of databases ideological” and that the parties “can only manage the data of your affiliates.” For Sánchez Almeida, the concern is not to receive political propaganda through electronic media but the possible creation of profiles citizens labeled by their ideology. “You do not have to have a big brother that just by giving a retuit a message for the parties to have at your fingertips an algorithm that captures these data. Is opening a spigot that we don't know how it will end”.
in Addition, De la Quadra-Salcedo invokes the principle of “equality of arms” for the formation of public opinion and the will of the voters. “What will have all the matches the same conditions for access to the profiles?”, is question. Today, the formation of public opinion is the are delivering users to companies like Facebook that could manipulate, or alter the accuracy of their profiles in favor of a few matches or other. If not observed, the purported public interest of form the will of elections may open the door to manipulation.