It’s Spain's turn to take a closer look at the practices of their local Internet companies, and how they treat their customers’ personal data.

Spain's ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?) is a project of ETICAS Foundation, and is part of a region-wide initiative by leading Iberoamerican digital rights groups to shine a light on Internet privacy practices in Iberoamerica. The report is based on EFF's annual Who Has Your Back? report, but adapted to local laws and realities (A few months ago Brazil’s Internet Lab, Colombia’s Karisma Foundation, Paraguay's TEDIC, and Chile’s Derechos Digitales published their own 2017 reports, and Argentinean digital rights group ADC will be releasing a similar study this year).

ETICAS surveyed a total of nine Internet companies. These companies’ logs hold intimate records of the movements and relationships of the majority of the population in the country. The five telecommunications companies surveyed—Movistar, Orange, Vodafone-ONO, Jazztel, MásMóvil—together make up the vast majority of the fixed, mobile, and broadband market in Spain. ETICAS also surveyed the four most popular online platforms for buying and renting houses—Fotocasa, Idealista, Habitaclia, and ETICAS, in the tradition of Who Has Your Back?, evaluated the companies for their commitment to privacy and transparency, and awarded stars based on their current practices and public behavior. Each company was given the opportunity to answer a questionnaire, to take part in a private interview, and to send any additional information they felt appropriate, all of which was incorporated into the final report. This approach is based on EFF’s earlier work with Who Has Your Back? in the United States, although the specific questions in ETICAS’ study were adapted to match Spain’s local laws and realities.

ETICAS rankings for Spanish ISPs and phone companies are below; the full report, which includes details about each company, is available at:

ETICAS reviewed each company in five categories:

  1. Privacy Policy: whether its privacy policy is linked from the main website, whether it tell users which data are being processed, how long these companies store their data, and if they notify users if they change their privacy policies.
  2. According to law: whether they publish their law enforcement guidelines and whether they hand over data according to the law.
  3. Notification: whether they provide prior notification to customers of government data demands.  
  4. Transparency: whether they publish transparency reports.
  5. Promote users’ privacy in courts or congress: whether they have publicly stood to promote privacy.


A chart describing the results of the ETICAS survey of nine Internet companies

Companies in Spain are off to a good start but still have a ways to go to fully protect their customers’ personal data and be transparent about who has access to it. This years' report shows Telefónica-Movistar taking the lead, followed closely by Orange, but both still have plenty of room for improvement, especially on Transparency Reports and Notification. For 2018, competitors could catch up with efforts to provide better user notification of surveillance, publish transparency reports, law enforcement guidelines, or publicly make clear data protection policies.

ETICAS is expected to release this report annually to incentivize companies to improve transparency and protect user data. This way, all Spaniards will have access to information about how their personal data is used and how it is controlled by ISPs so they can make smarter consumer decisions. We hope the report will shine with more stars next year.