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Big Tech Under Watch: Spain Halts Meta’s Election Tools

 |  June 4, 2024

Spain’s data protection agency has taken a firm stance against Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. The Spanish watchdog has effectively blocked the use of Meta’s election tools, which were designed to boost voter participation and provide information about the electoral process, reported SpiceWorks.

The decision by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) comes amid fears that the tools could potentially infringe on citizens’ privacy rights. These tools, which have been utilized in various forms across different countries to encourage democratic participation, include features that allow users to check if they are registered to vote and to locate their polling station.

However, the AEPD’s intervention signals a growing scrutiny of how tech giants like Meta handle sensitive information, especially in the context of elections. The agency has raised concerns that the deployment of such tools could lead to the unauthorized collection and processing of personal data, posing a risk to individual privacy.

While Meta has defended its election tools as a means to foster civic engagement and ensure voters have the information they need to participate in the democratic process, the company now faces the challenge of addressing the regulatory concerns raised by the AEPD. The standoff highlights the delicate balance between leveraging technology to enhance democratic participation and safeguarding personal data against misuse.

The AEPD’s action is not an isolated incident but part of a broader trend of increased vigilance by data protection authorities across Europe. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) providing a robust framework for privacy rights, national watchdogs are increasingly willing to confront tech giants over practices that may compromise user privacy.

For Meta, the situation in Spain may necessitate a reevaluation of how its tools align with stringent European data protection standards.

Source: Spice Work