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Alert: your opinion on WhatsApp may be a crime

The case of local agents who insulted Manuela Carmena in a large group of this mobile messaging service opens a debate about the privacy of these 'apps'. How much public should read you to commit a hate crime?

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your opinion on WhatsApp may be a crime
your opinion on WhatsApp may be a crime

WhatsApp groups are often like a perpetual bachelor party where modesty and rules of good taste are set apart. There is no self-censorship that invades real life. We feel protected. We believe that anything goes. Spelling errors, hurtful comments, macabre jokes abound and even some video with pornographic content occasionally falls(mostly in male chats). But that feeling of protection, almost of maternal womb is not real: the privacy of these communications is being questioned.

Can we commit hate crimes if we are only read by a very limited audience? The answer is yes. Launching certain messages in certain types of chats can have unsuspected consequences. A small phrase written hastily, in bad faith or with a couple of extra drinks can affect (confusingly) rights of privacy, image, honor, confidentiality of communications and data protection.

Right from its inception has been creating coordinates to guide human beings in the mist that separates the public from the private sphere. However, in the digital age, with the development of new communication technologies, these two areas coexist within changing limits, with porous borders that demand new legal interpretations.

For example, just three weeks ago a judge considered that there were indications of the alleged commission of a hate crime and another of insults by three policemen in a WhatsApp chat that came to have 200 agents and some did not know each other . The same insults in another chat profile would have no criminal consequences.

In that group, baptized 10 years and night shift , the accused called the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, “old-fashioned” and lamented that she had not been killed in the attack on Atocha Street (1977) at the hands of a group of the extreme right. Also included were phrases of praise to Hitler (“This gentleman did know how to do things”) and insults to well-known journalists.

THERE IS NO UNANIMITY

This decision generates a legal debate. Different lawyers, including the Unified Municipal Police Association (APMU), disagree with that criterion. They consider that conversations in a chat of this nature belong to the private sphere and that “the privacy of the police has been violated” with their exposition.

However, for Javier de la Cueva, a lawyer specialized in Technology, the judge has considered the term “public” as “there is a public” and not that “the space is public”. An important nuance.

If what happened is a hate crime, what amount of public is necessary for these insults to be considered a crime? In the police chat there were 116 people at the time of the complaint, but the legislation does not specify anything, so it is interpretable. “It should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, without any number being indicated in advance,” De la Cueva says, adding: “We are facing offenses that mark the limit of freedom of expression, the interpretation of the courts should be expansive as regards the exercise of rights and restrictive as to the interpretation of the crime ».

According to the lawyer Pablo Fernández Burgueño, privacy serves what can be called an intimate circle of friends and family, while groups of WhatsApp deprivatized can be considered those created by public administrations, by companies and those that have a large number of professionals. of a similar profile.

Fernández Burgueño emphasizes that, apart from the contents of our messages, there are other elements that can influence the legal vsía, such as the popularity and expansion of the message denounced. This lawyer specializing in privacy has made a query to the Spanish Agency for Data Protection on the commercial use that could be given to your Twitter account and your personal blog.

The received response opens this field. The number of followers that he has on Twitter (7.187 today), their types of profiles and the traffic of his posts make him be considered as “influential in networks” and the Agency considers that his activity is not focused “solely on the framework of private or family life ». Therefore, it is included in the application of data protection regulations. This could be interpreted as that this person has a profile with a greater legal sensitivity.

Being popular can be an aggravating factor in WhatsApp. Today we must not think what is said but who sees it. One false step and you can be de-privatized.

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