[gaia] Internet censorship and blockade in Catalonia (Spain) in the recent weeks and today

Leandro Navarro <leandro@ac.upc.edu> Sun, 01 October 2017 11:50 UTC

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From: Leandro Navarro <leandro@ac.upc.edu>
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Date: Sun, 01 Oct 2017 12:50:24 +0100
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Subject: [gaia] Internet censorship and blockade in Catalonia (Spain) in the recent weeks and today
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Dear all, 

You may have heard that today the 1-O referendum in Catalonia is ongoing. 73% of electoral offices were open this morning despite the blockade from prosecutors, judges and the charges from police forces. There are very long queues to vote. 

Meanwhile the "guardia civil", a military police, together with the riot police, have entered in large groups to some of the electoral offices (especially those where high profile politicians were expected) to seize the ballot boxes and papers. As a result of the police charges to peaceful people, tenths of people have suffered injuries (you can find in the media sad images in the election offices). 

As a result of a long list of measures and countermeasures to avoid the referendum (many orders from public prosecutors, only recently from a judge, budget blockade to public payments of many kind), the Catalan government has declared this morning the "universal census" so people can move and vote in alternative offices if his own is blocked (as the validation of voters is done over the Internet). Civil society have found ways to spread the message and enable voting that were not possible many years ago.

Voting is slow and painful but is progressing. There are many network attacks, the police has disconnected Internet access and wifi APs to schools to block the election offices, and many sites to collect and coordinate the process. The Internet is fragmented in Catalonia. Hundreds of web sites from public but also civil-society organizations have been seized or blocked. A few days ago, the tech responsible of the .cat TLD was literally taken from him home while showering and detained for 3 days with no formal accusation. As a result, the .cat TLD and many .cat sites have been blocked. Some people that replicated web sites where detained and forced (by a judge + police) to give their passwords for, not only the sites, but also their personal email and personal accounts in social media.  Citizens and electoral offices are using new imaginative and decentralized means to deliver votes and manage the census (using VPNs abroad, Tor, IPFS, etc) to certify the process.

This repression and human rights violations against a peaceful movement, to block the political expression of a large group of citizens against political problems, cannot be justified as being declared "illegal" respect to a given rule of law (the Spanish constitution defined 42 years ago, never reformed). Let's see what political solutions we can find now, after years of political fights, and a weekend of repressive police actions against so many citizens willing to express their political opinions. Probably it will not be easier than before.

In my opinion, the human right for expression goes before the defense of a given rule of law. Political negotiation and reforms are the way, and not censorship, police charges and repression.

Certainly the Internet makes a difference in this process, for those inside and outside. Among many other sad examples around the world, let's learn and apply our lessons to build a more resilient and open Internet for everyone.

Kind regards, Leandro.
Leandro Navarro
http://people.ac.upc.edu/leandro	 http://dsg.ac.upc.edu