Spanish Constitutional Court strikes down political profiling

Spanish Tribunal Court impedes that the GDPR implementation law legalises in Spain the practices criticised in the Cambridge Analytica case
No. 4, 11 June 2019 – GDPR anniversary edition Issue
Spanish Constitutional Court strikes down political profiling.

On 22 May 2019, the Spanish Constitutional Court stroke down Article 58.1 from the Spanish law implementing the GDPR which allowed for profiling for electoral purposes. The complaint was brought up by civil society groups before the Spanish Ombudsman, who then took the complaint to the Constitutional Court.

The law was adopted by the Spanish Congress in December 2018. Its Article 58.1 allowed for a “public interest” exception which would allow political parties to collect online data and profile citizens. This data could be used then to contact those citizens by any private communication service, from SMS to WhatsApp or email. The claim was brought up by Spanish NGOs Asociación de Internautas, the Plataforma en Defensa la Libertad de Información (PDLI) and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos España.

One of the main advocates of the civil society, Borja Adsuara (PDLI) states that if active citizens would not have taken action and brought the case before the Constitutional Court, the outcome would have been regrettable. The law would have legalised in Spain the practices criticised in “Cambridge Analytica” which had an impact tilting results to more extreme positions in the last US elections as well as in the Brexit referendum. Although at the time of writing this article the full judgment is not still available, Adsuara estimated that it will be “an important judgment, both for Spain and for the European Union”.