Spain suspends Meta’s election tools for EU election

The Spanish watchdog argues that certain data processing practices, such as selecting eligible voters based on users’ profiles, are unnecessary and disproportionate.

 Flag, Spain Flag

Spain’s data protection authority, AEPD, has temporarily suspended two Meta products planned for deployment during the upcoming European election on its social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram. The tools, named ‘Election Day Information’ (EDI) and ‘Voter Information Unit’ (VIU), potentially violate data protection regulations in Spain, according to AEPD. Meta, formerly Facebook, has contested this decision, stating that the tools were designed to respect users’ privacy and comply with GDPR standards.

Meta’s proposed data processing methods, aimed at sending notifications to eligible users reminding them to vote, raised concerns for AEPD. The agency highlighted that Meta’s selection of eligible voters based on user profile data such as city of residence and IP addresses was contrary to Spanish data protection regulations. AEPD deemed this data processing unnecessary, disproportionate, and excessive, as it excluded EU citizens living abroad and targeted non-EU citizens in Europe.

Furthermore, AEPD criticised Meta’s data collection practices regarding users’ ages, stating there was no reliable mechanism to verify self-reported ages. Additionally, the watchdog found Meta’s treatment of interaction data disproportionate to the stated purpose of informing about the elections. Moreover, Meta failed to justify the need to retain the collected data after the election, indicating potential additional purposes for the processing operation, according to AEPD.