DATA PROTECTION | AG Rantos on “manifestly public” sensitive data processing

On 25 April 2024, Advocate General AG Rantos issued an Opinion on the case C-446/2021 (Maximilian Schrems v Meta Platform Ireland Limited). The lawsuit involved a Facebook user alleging the unlawful processing of his sensitive data – particularly concerning his sexual orientation – for targeted advertising purposes. Despite never voluntarily sharing information on his homosexuality on the social network, Facebook suggested tailored content to Mr. Schrems based on an analysis of his personal interests. The Austrian Supreme Court referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with two key questions. Firstly, whether Facebook can use all data that it directly and indirectly collects for targeted advertising without temporal restrictions and, secondly, whether the fact that the user publicly disclosed his sexual orientation during a panel discussion permits the processing of such data for personalised advertising purposes. In his opinion, the Advocate General proposed that the ECJ should rule that data processing must adhere to the principle of data minimisation and cannot be indiscriminate. Furthermore, he argued that even in cases where a user’s sexual orientation becomes “manifestly public,” this fact alone does not justify its utilisation for personalised advertising purposes.

Newsletter n. 96 – May 2024