Article 51 of the Spanish Constitution of 27 December 1978 expressly regulated for the first time, the rights of consumers and users.
La protección de los consumidores y usuarios se convierte a basic principle that obliges the State to ensure their rights and freedoms in this area.
1. The public powers shall guarantee the defence of consumers and users, protecting, by means of effective procedures, the health, safety and legitimate economic interests thereof.
2. The public powers shall promote information and education of consumers and users, furthering their organisations and shall hear them with regard to issues that might affect them under the terms established by Law.
Therefore, with the promulgation of the Constitution of 1978, the public powers are obliged to:
- Guarantee the defence of consumers and users,
- Protect their health and safety,
- Protect their legitimate economic interests,
- Promote information and education of consumers and users,
- • Further organisations of consumers and users and listen to them with regard to what might affect them.
Therefore, communication, understood in much wider terms than those stated in article 18.3 in 1978, includes electronic mail, chats or other media, as long as it is carried out using a technical device or instrument.
Although it is related to the right to privacy, the protection of the right of communication, whatever they may be, has its own identity and may not be infringed by the public powers or private individuals or other institutions. The Spanish Constitutional Court has declared this to be the case on many occasions. If one of the parties involved in a communication reveals its contents, it shall not be regarded as an infringement of article 18.3 EC, but rather an infringement of the right to privacy.
Therefore, any attempt to intercept communications (post, email, sms, telephone call, etc.), to identify the interlocutors or to discover the contents thereof is very severe. In the instance of telephone calls, the right to secret communication is infringed not only when the information is accessed but also when it is known with who or with what number the communication takes place, and even if the duration of the call is accessed, although the Constitutional Court highlights ‘the lesser degree of encroachment’ when the content of the communication is not accessed (Sentence of the Constitutional Court no. 123/2002, of 20 May).
Telecommunications companies should keep certain details about their clients’ communications but not about the contents and should only facilitate them to the police, NIC or Customs and Excise Services in response to a court order in the event of a severe crime.
Who can access communications
Art. 18.3 of the Constitution makes clear that a court ruling may enable this right to secret communications to be “broken”. However, it such an authorisation does not exits, the public employee or agent shall be guilty of violating this right, and the penalty received shall vary according to whether he has divulged the facts or not.
To sum up, if you have been affected as a CONSUMER in cases such as vehicles of different brands, telephone and telecommunications companies, banks, trademarks, etc., do not hesitate to consult about your particular case with no obligation.