Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The AEPD will refer complaints about unwanted publicity to an arbitration body, but the idea doesn’t convince everyone: “They pass the dead on for another”.

The Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) has this week approved the revision of one of the codes of conduct of Autocontrol, the self-regulation and supervision body of the advertising industry in Spain. In particular, they have introduced Changes to the code of conduct regarding data processing in advertising activity.

In a press release, the data protection agency advanced that Telecom –Massmobile, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone— had already followed this new code of conduct. In summary, what the new document proposes is that complaints about unwanted advertising that the AEPD has received so far go through autocontrol arbitration first.

The AEPD has up to 24 months to respond to procedures it opens for complaints, for example, from citizens receiving unsolicited advertisements. Along with the new Autocontrol Code of Conduct, this self-regulatory body will provide a pre-arbitration service that can last up to 30 days.

Thus, the agency understands that Many complaints can be resolved quickly, From a response period of up to 2 years to an arbitration of only one month. The problem is that, despite the data protection body’s victory, some experts in the field warn that in most cases this new arbitration service solves will end without agreement.

This is the opinion of Gonzalo Olivera, Data Protection Consultant at OZONIA Consultores and member of the Spanish Association of Data Protection Delegates, aeDPD. Oliver in conversation Business Insider Spainsorry that arbitration in most cases What is it going to do that “those interested lose a month”.

AEPD hands over 11% of the complaints it receives to Autocontrol

With the new code of conduct, if a citizen received unwanted publicity, he had the right to lodge a complaint with the AEPD which could be resolved within a maximum period of 24 months. Now the Code of Conduct provides that the process is first opened through a self-regulating ad hoc jury, which will mediate between claimants and defendants.

The Advertising Jury is presided over by a former Magistrate of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court and its members include professors of commercial law as well as prominent figures from the advertising industry. AEPD hopes that with its intervention many demands will be resolved through mediation in just 30 days. However, the views of this body are not binding.

The claims that may be subject to this new arbitration service are related to advertising behavior that is unwanted by users. The AEPD’s annual report for 2021—the latest available data—shows that this type of claim was more than 1,500 that year, 11% of the total processed by the agency.

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With the update of the Autocontrol Code of Conduct on Data Protection in Advertising, the AEPD will manage to reduce the number of complaints processed on this matter in 2021 to more than 1,500 and speed up their resolution in many of them through mediation.

But data protection expert Oliver fears that what the AEPD is really doing is “shifting the blame onto someone else”. “The AEPD always has the excuse that it doesn’t have enough staff and it doesn’t have enough budget. What it does is hand over the dead to another, in this case Autocontrol, although it is a system on which the first has been contemplated by the GDPR ever since.”

“If the processing period is reduced to 30 days, it would mean that these arbitrations would not end with any clearance to the entities.” “Most of the unwanted ads are sent by telecom companies. And another issue that no one has delved into is what will happen to all the money the AEPD receives for these unwanted advertising bans,” he says.

AEPD’s lack of resources, blocked in the interim

Unsolicited advertising is regulated by two laws, the Information Society Services Law (LSSI), which legislates for advertising by email and SMS, and the General Telecommunications Act, which legislates for advertising calls. Subsequent sanctions rose to 100,000 euros by June.

But the fact that up to 11% of claims received per year by the AEPD first go through the arbitration service could mean that a substantial proportion of the sanctions will expire by 2023. “It will hit the pockets of multinational telcos and in AEPD. We see operators getting restrictions week after week”.

Oliver understands that these multinationals either do not learn or “in many cases”, simply fail to comply with the obligation to cooperate with regulatory authorities, such as the AEPD itself. “In many cases they refuse to answer.” Large multinational companies in the region have received various sanctions for this type of unwanted publicity.

Self-control code of conduct with respect to AEPD details can be updated, in addition, by the data protection agency itself Receive ex officio the related claims that have been filed before it. As such, it will be the AEPD and not the claimant who takes the process to an advertising jury.

“In this arbitration process all this is passed to the ad hoc jury and it can end in one of two ways: either in an agreement between the parties or without an agreement. I am sure that in 99% of cases it will end without agreement, And it will be a lost month for those interested” who file these claims, saddens Oliver.

The Spanish agency for data protection meets at the end of January for a three-and-a-half-year interim. Mar España, its general director, was being replaced with a new organizational chart that is in line with the governing body’s new statutes, which contemplates A President and a Vice President.

Eventually, political blockade and a Supreme Court order forced the government Resume the process of nominating new chiefs of AEPDAt least until 2023. However, an election year may delay the process until the next legislature.

In September 2021 it was already starting to become clear that the budgets of data protection agencies across Europe had stagnated, despite the fact that the number of procedures they have to process has increased substantially with the General Data Protection Regulation And also the amount of penalty.

Nation World News Desk
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