GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, MYSPACE And Other Internet Providers Are Targeted By the Spanish Data Protection Agency

7 February 2010

A few weeks ago, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (known by the Spanish acronym AEPD) announced that these large Internet service providers were not respecting Spanish data protection and privacy rules and that they had “crossed various red lines” in this matter.

We recently witnessed the start of disciplinary proceedings against Google Spain e Inc. for collecting personal data for Street View. AEPD proposed penalizing said company for two serious infringements and three very serious infringements of the Data Protection Act after verifying that they had collected WI-FI network tracing data with user i.d.s, e-mail messages, user codes and passwords, etc. In addition, said data would have been transmitted internationally to the U.S. in violation of the guarantees and requirements stipulated for same in the Data Protection Act. This transmission constitutes one of the very serious infringements.

As regards Tuenti and Facebook, the social networks were under court order to improve their privacy policies and block access to children under the age of fourteen.

On the other hand, the Internet sector, countered that they have long tried to call attention to the fact that the strict Spanish regulations (Data Protection Act and regulations) on these matters is an attempt to serve as a gate-keeper for the new reality of dynamic, changing, global and mass use of Internet services. Additionally, the extremely severe penalty system applied in Spain was singled out for criticism on numerous occasions, in contrast with that of not only other countries in the world, but also other countries in the EU itself. Ultimately, the differences in legislation and law enforcement might have created competitive disadvantages for companies in the sector located in Spain.

In any event, future challenges in data protection will be numerous in relation to phenomena such as cloud computing, social networks and the use of behaviour-based advertising, amongst others.

For further information, please contact Belén Arribas: barribas@mmmm.es