Actualidad Spain

Personal data protection and digital rights

Organic Law on Personal Data Protection and Guarantees over Digital Rights

The ic Law on Personal Data Protection and Guarantees over Digital Rights was published in the Spanish Parliament's Official Gazette on 6 December and is almost identical to the draft bill discussed in Progreso 12. However, it has added a full section on digitaOrganl rights, beginning with the acknowledgment that rights and freedoms are entirely applicable to the world wide web, as is the right to online security.

The main areas covered in the new section are as follows:

Right to digital education and protection of minors online

The law reinforces the obligations incumbent on the educational system to ensure that students and teaching staff receive training about the safe and appropriate use of the internet, which must form part of the syllabus*.

Safeguarding the protection of minors, the law urges parents and legal guardians of minors to make sure that youngsters use digital devices and information society services in a sensible and responsible manner. Furthermore, to protect their online data, it recognizes that minors' interests should prevail and their basic rights in any publication or dissemination of their personal data through information society services by educational centers and by any other natural or legal person carrying out activities involving minors.

Digital rights

One of the most significant features of the law is the right to be forgotten in internet searches. This recognizes a person's right to have internet search engines erase all links containing information about that person from the list of results obtained after a search using their name, when the information is inappropriate, imprecise, irrelevant, excessive or out of date. It also regulates the specific scenario of the right to be forgotten on social media and equivalent services, recognizing a person's right for information about them to be erased when the title owner so requests.

The right of data portability, already recognized in the draft text, is reinforced in the new section, recognizing that users of social network services and equivalent services are entitled to receive and transfer the contents they may have made available to the providers of these services.

A new feature is the regulation of the right to an online will. For these purposes, the right of access, rectification and cancelation of the contents handled by information society service providers about people who have died is recognized. This right may be exercised by those who had a relationship with the people who have died, whether this is a family link or a de facto one, and by their heirs, except when the dead party has explicitly forbidden this, or where a contradictory law exists.

Digital rights in the workplace

The law provides for a series of online rights that can be applied to the workplace and extended by collective bargaining:

  • The right to disconnect: the free time of workers and state-sector employees as well as their private and family space must be respected outside their legal working hours.
  • The right to privacy from the use of video surveillance and audio recording equipment in the workplace: allowing company owners to process images obtained from camera systems that monitor their workers, only when this is stipulated in the labor legislation and workers have been expressly informed beforehand of this measure. The law forbids the installation of audio or video surveillance systems in places used for resting or relaxation, such as dressing rooms, bathrooms, dining-rooms and similar.
  • The right to privacy from geo-location systems in the workplace: as with the previous right, this allows company owners to process data obtained from geo-location systems for monitoring purposes, only when this measure has been expressly communicated beforehand.

Other new features

The legislation contains several other new features. Thus, in the case of credit information systems or debtors' lists, it cuts from 6 to 5 years the maximum period for which debts can be listed and stipulates that only defaults of EUR 50 or over can be included in the list, unlike the previous regulation, which did not specify a minimum sum.

It also requires the processing officer to block data when these must be rectified or erased. Blocking consists of identifying and segregating the data, using technical and organizational means to prevent them from being processed, or even viewed.

* The Government should submit a Bill to guarantee these specific rights within a year from the law coming into force and educational institutions will have the same time to include this training in their syllabuses.