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Catalan Government Claims Spanish Online Censorship Breaching EU Laws

The Catalan government has written to the European Commission claiming that the Spanish government is in breach of EU law. In a letter from Jordi Puigneró Secretary of Telecommunications, Cybersecurity and the Digital Society at the Government of Catalonia addressed to Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, the Catalan government calls out the moves by the Madrid government as censorship.

Over the past ten days, the Spanish government has issued court orders to multiple entities including the .cat domain name registry, whose offices were also raided, as well as to Spanish ISPs. The goal being to block access to websites and other content related to the upcoming referendum in Catalonia.

The letter, refers to the court order the .cat registry received, which demanded that they block all .cat domain names that “could be about or point to any content related to the referendum”. It also cites the worldwide media coverage of the raid on the .cat offices and the blocking of multiple websites (and domains) related to the referendum.

Apparently, the court orders being issued to the ISPs in Spain are very broad, as the letter refers to orders blocking access to “all websites publicised by any member of the Catalan government in any social network that has a direct or indirect relation with the referendum without any further court order”.

How ISPs are meant to implement that kind of court order is beyond me, as it sounds incredibly vague and the judicial equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.

Whether the European Commission will make any public comments in reaction to this letter or not is debatable, but the concerns being raised by Jordi Puigneró are ones that are shared by many observers from around the globe. The Spanish government’s actions in Catalonia have received widespread criticism from many in civil society including ISOC and the EFF.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions

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