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Spain’s data watchdog blocks two EU election tools from Meta’s Instagram, Facebook

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Spain’s data protection watchdog AEPD has ordered the provisional suspension of two planned Meta products set to be deployed in the upcoming European election on its social media platforms Instagram and Facebook, it said on Friday.

The tools, named “Election Day Information” (EDI) and “Voter Information Unit” (VIU), would potentially violate the Spanish data protection regulation (GDPR), AEPD said.

“Our election tools have been expressly designed to respect users’ privacy and comply with the GDPR. While we disagree with the AEPD’s assessment in this case, we have cooperated with their request,” a Meta spokesperson told Reuters.

According to the agency, Meta has said it intends that all eligible Instagram and Facebook users in the European Union will receive notifications from VIU and EDI reminding them to vote.

“The data processing envisaged by Meta would be contrary to Spanish data protection regulation and would, at the very least, breach the data protection principles of lawfulness, data minimisation and limitation of the retention period,” the AEPD said in a statement.

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It added that Meta was selecting eligible voters based on the data contained in users’ profiles about their city of residence, as well as their IP addresses. But the only condition to be allowed to vote in the European election is being an adult national of any of the EU’s member states.

The AEPD said this data treatment was “unnecessary, disproportionate and excessive” because it left out EU citizens living abroad and targeted citizens of non-EU countries who are in Europe.

The agency added that collecting data on users’ ages was not justified, as there was no reliable mechanism to verify their self-reported ages, and the treatment of interaction data was “totally disproportionate in relation to the supposed purpose of informing about the elections”.

The watchdog said Meta had not justified the need for storing the data after the election, which “reveals an additional purpose for the processing operation”.

First uploaded on: 31-05-2024 at 17:46 IST

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