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Government Censorship EU The Internet

Spain's Crackdown on Catalonia Includes Internet Censorship (internetsociety.org) 363

Spain's autonomous Catalonia region wants to hold a referendum on independence next weekend. Spain's Constitutional Court insists that that vote is illegal, and has taken control of Catalonia's police force to try to stop the vote. They're deploying thousands of additional police officers and have seized nearly 10 million ballots. And now the Internet Society has gotten involved, according to an announcement shared by Slashdot reader valinor89: Measures restricting free and open access to the Internet related to the independence referendum have been reported in Catalonia. There have been reports that major telecom operators have been asked to monitor and block traffic to political websites, and following a court order, law enforcement has raided the offices of the .cat registry in Barcelona, examining a computer and arresting staff.

We are concerned by reports that this court order would require a top-level domain (TLD) operator such as .cat to begin to block "all domains that may contain any kind of information about the referendum."

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Spain's Crackdown on Catalonia Includes Internet Censorship

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 23, 2017 @05:36PM (#55251959)

    Ain't dead yet!

    • Indeed, and it's not exactly unprecedented....The country didn't end fascism until 1975, and Europe in general still loves censorship.

  • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @05:39PM (#55251977) Homepage

    Trying to suppress people's freedom is the surest way of pissing them off. How many went from pro-union to pro-independence due to this nonsense?

    • by valinor89 ( 1564455 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @05:46PM (#55252007)
      Quite a lot of people are very enraged by the actions of the government that were not thinking of voting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Nah, just call them Nazis. Then censoring them or even physically assaulting them is okay.

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        Child molester is better. Everyone agrees they don't deserve any rights, not even a trial.

    • by marcansoft ( 727665 ) <hector@noSpaM.marcansoft.com> on Saturday September 23, 2017 @11:03PM (#55252953) Homepage

      The vote was already illegitimate; this is just going to slant it further. They already tried a non-binding "referendum" in 2014 with predictable results: 80% pro-independence (even though fair polls show more like 40%). The only way to have a fair referendum is to do it in a way that is approved and legal; the moment it becomes dodgy in any way, it severely biases the results because of course participation is going to be severely skewed towards people who want to vote yes.

      This is why the central government only really has two choices: they can either support a completely legitimate referendum (whether this can actually be done legally or not based on the Constitution is unclear), or they can wholly suppress attempts. They can't allow an illegitimate referendum to go through because the result is going to be obvious and not representative of the citizens' will. The pro-independence regional government has stated they intend to declare independence within 48 hours after a "yes" victory; this would be ridiculous in this case given that result would in no way be accurate with the current circumstances surrounding the referendum.

      (Note: I don't approve of the censorship part, just trying to explain what is going on.)

      • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Sunday September 24, 2017 @04:34AM (#55253473) Homepage

        The only way it is illegitimate is because the Spanish government has said they won't abide by it, but it can still be a legitimate referendum for the self-rule and in the eyes of the world.

        • No, this isn't about what the Spanish government thinks. The referendum as it is being currently attempted is fundamentally illegitimate because it all but guarantees a "yes" outcome by severely biasing participation towards "yes" proponents. That makes it invalid in to every rational pair of eyes. To have a legitimate referendum, you need to have high participation that is balanced between supporters of all sides, which, in a functional democracy, means both sides have to agree to hold the referendum (or a

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            So how do you propose to ever have change through a referendum when the status quo can just choose not to participate and thus make it "invalid", winning by default?

            Assume for a moment that there is a majority in favour of independence - how could they ever legally achieve their goal without the cooperation of national government?

            I'm actually asking, because I can't think of any way.

    • Think of Ireland and the Easter Rising in 1916. It did not have general Irish public support and was easily suppressed, at least in military terms. But the unnecessarily vengeful nature of the suppression increased Irish (and British) support for secession which came about only a few years later.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 23, 2017 @05:42PM (#55251993)

    If you start condoning Internet censorship for political reasons (for example, what has been going on with the Daily Stormer), it will never stop where you think.

    • Talk about politics and politicians should be the most highly-protected of all. In the US even flat-out lies are protected as the government may not become the arbiter of truth about itself.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Gravis Zero ( 934156 )

      If you start condoning Internet censorship for political reasons (for example, what has been going on with the Daily Stormer), it will never stop where you think.

      The "Daily Stormer" was not censored, they just weren't supported by businesses. If they were censored, they wouldn't be back online and being hosted by some company in Iceland.

      Is it too much to ask of mods to grasp the truth of content before modding it? (mod me down, "-1 oww, my feels!")

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 23, 2017 @06:17PM (#55252159)

        Don't play word games and call yourself anything other than an oppressor.

        It is political speech, suppressed on the basis of politics. It used to be that any company who deigned to offer communication services to the public understood itself to do so on a non-discriminatory basis as to the ideological content of that communication.

        Any business that thinks it has the right NOT to take that business should not be in the communication business. It makes no difference whether censorship is carried out by government, or corporations. The people are neither.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gravis Zero ( 934156 )

          Don't play word games and call yourself anything other than an oppressor.

          Way to play the victim!

          It makes no difference whether censorship is carried out by government, or corporations.

          So, you are upset that a intrinsically oppressive ideology is being oppressed? Doesn't is seem like they are getting exactly what they want? Oh, they want to be the oppressors, right.

          That's some serious mental gymnastics you got going on there, buddy.

        • It used to be that any company who deigned to offer communication services to the public understood itself to do so on a non-discriminatory basis as to the ideological content of that communication.

          Was this before the age of media barons - like William Randolph Hearst, Silvio Berlusconi, and Rupert Murdoch - or after?

  • by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @05:43PM (#55251995)

    Cataluña has no reason to secede. Nationalists, who are basically localist fascists are the ones pushing for an impossible exit of cataluña from the Spain, when by the way, they werent anexed. Cataluña entered Spain voluntarily, more than 500 years ago. Now the spanish government though is anything but smart. Prime Minister Rajoy could almost qualify as a sea sponge if we are talking about intelligence. This is why this move on the Spanish part is sad, stupid, but not unforseen. It plays into the hands of the fucking cataluña nazis, which is what nationalists are.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "Prime Minister Rajoy could almost qualify as a sea sponge if we are talking about intelligence."

      Spongebob Squarepants has moments of genius.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 )

      All nationalists are secret members of the NSDAP?
      People spewing their biased political opinions are getting more hilarious by the hour.
      Want to be independent? You must be one of dem der NAZIS!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by johanw ( 1001493 )

        The Spanish party that is currently in power, the Partido Popular, is an indirect decendant of the Franco regime. Franco repressed would-be secceeders too, so thsi reaction is no surprise.

        • by CustomSolvers2 ( 4118921 ) on Sunday September 24, 2017 @03:32AM (#55253411) Homepage

          the Partido Popular, is an indirect decendant of the Franco regime.

          This is an extremely inaccurate statement. Partido Popular is a typical European centre-right party, on the lines of Conservative Party in the UK or CDU in Germany.

          CLARIFICATION: I am a leftist who will never vote or support Partido Popular, much less after their numerous corruption problems.

          • by johanw ( 1001493 )

            It's founder was a minister under Franco, and it has not been so long agoo (the party was founded in 1989) that one can claim such bounds are a thing from the past and things have changed.

            • It's founder was a minister under Franco, and it has not been so long ago (the party was founded in 1989) that one can claim such bounds are a thing from the past and things have changed.

              My point was that it isn't a far-right party on the lines of what being pro-Franco would suggest. Bear in mind that Franco died in his bed (I was born 3 years later together with our Constitution) and our transition to a democracy was a peaceful process. This might sound a bit weird and Spain, at many different levels, might be quite weird for some people. But this is all about it: curious facts, weirdness, peculiarities. Partido Popular has been the main centre-right party for quite a few years already and

    • by ffkom ( 3519199 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @06:31PM (#55252225)
      Driven by local nationlists, the north American territories of the British Empire did absolutely illegal things when they seceded. How could those people dare to question the legal rule of their central government?

      And by the way, lot's of European countries would still be under the despotic rule of some emporer far away in Rome, had they not been "disobedient" to Roman law.
      • by skam240 ( 789197 )

        "And by the way, lot's of European countries would still be under the despotic rule of some emporer far away in Rome, had they not been "disobedient" to Roman law."

        Your ignorance of history is astounding. The Roman empire was defeated by foreign armies, not native ones.

        • by johanw ( 1001493 )

          In the later days oif the Roman empire this distinction was rather unclear, since most of the soldiers were non-Romans.

        • lot's

          Your ignorance of history is astounding.

          He's not too brilliant at grammar, either.

      • You and quite a few other people here seem to have a quite distorted perception of the actual reality, presumably mostly promoted by the secessionist parties. A better example for you, Americans (because this is a US-based site, no idea about you), would be: a group of people in one of the US states (Texas, I think that is a good example) decides to unilaterally secede from the USA and, because of happening to be part of the regional government, stops applying the federal laws and starts the secession proce
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      There is a balance between expressing democracy and theft of rights of citizens. So a culturally Spanish person living in Catalonia, will have their rights stolen, they would either be required to get out, losing their established life or lose their Spanish citizenship. It is called tyranny of the majority, in either direction. It will always be problematic and undesirable, there are never good outcomes and inevitably everyone is worse off but scammy nationalists, people scamming democracy for their own per

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by valinor89 ( 1564455 )
      How strange, as far as history goes Spain did not exist 500 years ago. Are you speaking about when Catalonia was united with the Aragon crown? That was a dynastic union where a Catalan baron inherited the Crown of Aragon. I would put the inflexion point in 1714 where Catalonia sided with Charles of Austia in the spanish succesion war and lost against Philip V who started a very repressive policy against catalans. Also, I find quite ironic that they call the independence movement as nazis when most of them
      • Why is that ironic? The Nazis were on the same side as Franco. They sent troops and aircraft - the Condor Legion - to help him in the civil war.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @08:14PM (#55252527)

      It plays into the hands of the fucking cataluña nazis

      Witness the new political norm in action, people. Just label your opponents Nazis or fascists and then anything you do to them--be it censorship, assault, or even murder--then becomes justified. Such is modern political discourse.

      • Nazis are the modern equivalent of 1940s Jews. Does that blow anyone else's mind?

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @10:23PM (#55252915) Journal

      Cataluña has no reason to secede. Nationalists, who are basically localist fascists are the ones pushing for an impossible exit of cataluña from the Spain, when by the way, they werent anexed.

      You can say exactly the same things about Scotland in the UK and Quebec in Canada. In both cases the regions were given a free vote (two in fact for Quebec) about whether they wanted to secede and in both cases the majority voted against it and the independence movements in both locations are now effectively muted for decades. So while Spain has been saying that "no country would tolerate this" they are utterly wrong: two countries have and it worked out well both times.

      If what you say is true then the Spanish government is being idiotic in its response. It should not only have allowed the vote but organized it too to ensure it is performed fairly. If you are right then such a vote would have been against independence and the problem goes away for several decades. Actively suppressing it is likely to greatly increase support for independence and the result will be some sort of election probably in favour of independence and then you'll have a resurgent independence movement which will cause you problems for decades and way well eventually result in independence!

    • Cataluña entered Spain voluntarily, more than 500 years ago.

      They entered Spain as voluntarily as Confederate states joined the union: they lost a war.

      • Bullshit. By definition you can't secede from something that you're not already part of.

        • Bullshit. By definition you can't secede from something that you're not already part of.

          Cool story bro, what has that got to do with what I said again?

    • by chthon ( 580889 )

      And Rajoy shows his true colors, wanting to be the true heir of Franco.

  • There is more (Score:3, Interesting)

    by valinor89 ( 1564455 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @05:45PM (#55252001)
    They are also arresting "civilian" programmers for mirroring the banned pages in other domains and charging them with disobedience, malfaesence and other charges.
    • Re:There is more (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @05:53PM (#55252035) Journal

      Isn't Spain in the EU? How the hell is this allowed to happen?

      I mean, Brussels has so little to do they can micromanage the length of carrots and the yellowness of bananas. Clearly they must have the big stuff like free speech guaranteed everywhere.

      • Isn't Spain in the EU? How the hell is this allowed to happen?

        I mean, Brussels has so little to do they can micromanage the length of carrots and the yellowness of bananas. Clearly they must have the big stuff like free speech guaranteed everywhere.

        EU can punish after treaty and regulation breaks after the fact but they doesn't have any direct powers short term. Well not beyond calling a meeting of various kinds and saying harsh words. And then there is the whole problem with human rights abuses being under a difference European organization, but a much weaker one because even Russia is still a member of that one.

        • There is also the issue that the EU thinks democracy is an evil idea that must be squashed wherever it rears its ugly head.
      • by Soft ( 266615 )

        Isn't Spain in the EU? How the hell is this allowed to happen?

        The EU doesn't have a police force like the FBI that could override state authorities. It does have a supranational court, the ECHR [coe.int], that can judge human-rights issues and force an EU country to implement a decision. However, I believe that it can only hear a case after it has gone through the country's judicial system and all possible appeals have been tried. In this case, the catalonians could, and probably will, sue the spanish state before sp

      • Isn't Spain in the EU? How the hell is this allowed to happen?

        EU: Here is a constitution, we're going to have a vote on it
        EU population: We're not going to vote for it (polls)
        EU: OK, you didn't like it. We renamed it, but kept it the same, now you can't vote on it
        EU population:OK then
        Ireland and a few others:Eh, no, we're still going to have a vote
        EU:Grumbling, hmmm, we really don't want you to!
        Ireland and a few others:Who cares
        EU: OK, so long as you vote in the correct manner
        Ireland and a few others:...
        Ireland: Sorry guys, that's a no to that constitution t

  • by ffkom ( 3519199 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @06:06PM (#55252101)
    Not too long ago, in 2006, a majority in the Spanish parliament voted in favor of a treaty that intended to give Catalonia some more autonomy - only to be subsequently stopped by jurisdiction - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] for more on this.

    And now Spain has a government that seems inclined to follow in the foot steps of Erdogan and alike, who think that violence and oppression is the way to go if you don't like what some regional government has decided upon.

    It's really a shame how this conflict is being escalated for no good reason.
    • inclined to follow in the foot steps of Erdogan and alike

      One is arresting people associated with a ballot and bypassing banned material.
      The other actively killed opponents, arrested people with wide ranging roles including the media in attempt to silence opposition all while passing laws to gain additional power over people and also the judicial system.

      Spain's government may not be acting in the purest of democratic ways, but comparing this to what is going on in Turkey severely undermines just how bad the situation in Turkey really is.

      • by ffkom ( 3519199 )
        You are right that the situation in Turkey at this time is a lot worse than the situation in Spain, but look how quickly it escalates: Sending thousands of para-military "Guardia Civil" personell into Catalonia to enforce the will of the central government is the most sure way to alienate the locals - I would not be suprised to see the first shots fired soon.
    • As commented in another post up this thread, regions in Spain have a quite relevant autonomy, mainly Catalonia. The mechanisms allowing to extend/reduce the competences of each regional government are are included in the Spanish Constitution. It is a complex process which requires many qualified agreements (= lots of citizens wanting it), nothing to do with unilateral/arbitrary decisions of a few people anywhere.

      Spain (and Partido Popular/Mariano Rajoy or any other party) has nothing to do with a country l
  • we can't have that.
  • A few decades ago, Spain granted Catalonia quite a lot of autonomy away from the greater nation. While I don't know enough of the history to know why they did this, they were asking for this sort of trouble by doing it the first place. Catalonia is very wealthy, has a distinct culture, and provides about 20% of Spain's total GDP. If I remember, the call for total independence started about a decade ago. Spain's response at that time was to remove the extra powers they had been granted with their autonomy, r
  • Just as people who wanted freedom in other decades and nations ways around central telco and print censorship will be found.
    In 1950-80's Eastern Europe people printed their own newspapers, flyers and pamphlets.
    Today the world has bluetooth, wifi for short-range ad-hoc networks, low cost usb sticks and ways if moving larger amounts of local data around without needing a national internet.
    The more a government attempts to ban independence the more a local community will embrace anything that supports and s
  • "The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe." - Tom Wolfe

  • The move from Spain government seems rather stupid. It would have been easy to let the referendum happen and consider it unconstitutional, or illegitimate if few people attended.

    Now Spain government appears as fighting democracy, I am sure that it pushed many people in Catalonia toward independence.

  • this is russian meddling again. trying to break up the eu. russia needs to be punished.
  • ...aren't the local police. They're a military organisation that carries out police-like duties. You'll often see them in the streets of Barcelona but it's generally not a good idea to ask them the time or for directions. On the other hand, you can have a friendly chat, especially in Catalan, with the local Guàrdia Urbana if you want to. They're the local police and they're standing in support of the referendum.
    • ...aren't the local police.

      One of the competences of Catalonia (and other Spanish regions) is to have their own law-enforcement bodies at the local (I think that these are mostly managed by the given local government/city council) and regional levels. Equivalently to what happens in other countries, there are also national bodies with authority in the whole country. Guardia Civil (with pretty peculiar characteristics about which I am not personally too aware) is one of these national-level bodies. This whole problem was about the na

  • by valentinus ( 5097411 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @11:25PM (#55252989)
    ...and no, there is no censorship involved.

    Catalonia is not a colony.

    Catalonia has been always part of Spain, and a very important part. This was already so when the province of Hispania was created under the Roman Empire, imposing a layer of latin culture and roman institutions on top of the existing Iberian tribes. After the downfall of Empire, the visigoths ruled all of the Peninsula as a single kingdom for more than two centuries. The small christian kingdoms and principalities that from 711 to 1492 fighted the muslims were at times also fighting each other, but the general trend was that of strengthening alliances and uniting forces under the same religion, not unlike other places in Medieval Europe.

    Catalan counties were already integrated in a larger unit (the Kingdom of Aragon) in which different languages (such as castilian and catalan) already coexisted for two centuries before the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs. They no doubt kept their identity, but the same could be said of every other region. Asserting that those small medieval kingdoms survived into today's regions with zero intermingling, thus conforming clearly separate and distinct societies, is simply untenable.

    In the heyday of the Spanish Empire and till the 19th century, catalans (and basques, BTW) were not just part of the thing, but a *leading* part of it. You can find lots of catalan surnames in Hispanic American countries, many of them in well-to-do families (check out the names of some well known distilleries such as Bacardi, Brugal, Barceló, if you don't mind my alcoholic references).

    With the historical digression, I just wanted to point to the fact that there have been no borders inside Spain for many centuries. This is not some country with huge differences in racial/ethnic aspects, or torn out by religious strife. The interrelationships are deep and extended in time. At this point it's difficult to define exactly who is catalan or not. Is it just being born in today's arbitrarily defined administrative region what makes you catalan? Are you catalan if your parents were not? Are you catalan if you don't speak catalan? Are you catalan if you do speak catalan but don't live in Catalonia? The top 10 most frequent family names are the same in Cat and in the rest of Sp. Catalan is the first language of 36% of people living in Cat while Spanish is the first language for 46%. Catalan exports to Germany, to put an example, are less than half of those to its neighboring autonomous region of Aragon. Who gets to vote in a referendum?

    The fact is that since 1978 Sp has been a highly decentralized country, much more similar to federal Germany than to centralist France. Cat, being one of 17 autonomous regions, has had for almost 40 years plenty of effective "independence": both an autonomous government and parliament, capable of passing their own laws within a large margin, as long as they don't undermine the general interests of Sp as a whole, which doesn't seem so unreasonable to me.

    If you ask me, this autonomy has been used to put the emphasis on the difference. Autonomous administration has reached all aspects of civil life, to a point that the presence of national institutions are scarcely felt, and the words "país", "nació" are used all the time to refer to Cat and not to Sp. There's a huge part of the population whose first language is Spanish, yet it is not possible to study primary nor secondary school in Spanish (due to the official policy of "linguistic immersion"). Regional governments have spent a lot of money and effort in building their image, uniformizing and boosting the usage of catalan language, confering dignity to their institutions, projecting an international image, etc. etc. The regional PM is paid almost twice as much as Rajoy - not bad for an "oppressed nation"!

    At the same time, complaints about things that don't go well are targeted to a ghostly oppresive presence, the "State", the "Central Government". The idea of Spain is ass

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