Proposed Spanish Law Would Make Online Calls For Street Demonstrations, And Circulating Riot Images, Illegal

from the who-needs-militarized-police-to-muzzle-dissent? dept

Techdirt has been highlighting the growing problem of police militarization in the US for a while, and its huge impact on basic rights like free speech. But over in Spain, the government has taken a rather different approach to muzzling dissent. Rather than turning the police into a militia that can stop demonstrations through the use of overwhelming force, it's aiming to bring in a new law that makes organizing and taking part in protests -- both on the streets, and online -- almost impossible. Here's Global Voices' summary of what the new "Protection of Public Safety Bill" currently proposes:
It is against the law to participate in a demonstration before a state institution without sending prior notification to the relevant government office.

Disobedience or resistance to authorities; refusing to identify oneself; and giving false or inaccurate information given to state security agents are all prohibited.

"Insulting, harassing, threatening, or coercing" members of the Security Forces will constitute a serious offense.
But in addition to these general measures, there are some aimed specifically at ending the use of the Internet to organize protests:
Those who call for demonstrations through the Internet, social networks, or another other means may also be penalized for having committed a very serious offense.

The circulation of riot images during demonstrations can also constitute a very serious offense, punishable by 600,000€.

Circulating information on the Internet that is understood to be an attack on an individual's privacy or that of a person's family, or that contributes to disrupting an operation, will be punished equally with fines up to 600,000€.
The chilling effect that those last three will have on protests is clear. People will be reluctant to express any view that might be interpreted as calling for a demonstration, however vague. Forbidding riot images from being posted will, of course, mean that images of any police brutality against demonstrators are less likely to be circulated widely, removing one of the few brakes on violent police responses. And the last one concerning an "attack on privacy" is so vague that any mention of an individual might well be caught by it. In addition, anyone "insulting" Spain, its symbols or emblems, may be punished with up to a year's imprisonment.

Despite pressure from the public and opposition politicians, the legislation has been passed by the Spanish Congress, and now goes to the Senate for final approval. That means the only thing likely to halt it is an appeal to Spain's Constitutional Court. What's worrying here is the very clear intent to bring in a law that makes the online organization and coverage of peaceful protests difficult or even impossible -- something that many other governments would doubtlessly love to achieve, and may well even be encouraged to attempt if Spain goes ahead with this awful proposal.

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  • icon
    Nom du Clavier (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 8:22am

    The circulation of riot images during demonstrations can also constitute a very serious offense, punishable by 600,000€.


    Just publish them in Australia, it's already the day after the demonstration there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 9:39am

    Considering what they did in the news snippets and links case it's not surprising that they are moving bad laws forward.

    The conspiracy nut in me says the news move was intended to make it harder for the newspapers and this will be another nail in the coffin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 9:44am

    Dear Citizens...

    We are removing more of your liberties.

    ~All Current Governments

    There is currently no nation that stands for Liberty at this time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tony (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 6:18am

      Re: Dear Citizens...

      "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

      Seems he had it right

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:20pm

        Re: Re: Dear Citizens...

        If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

        Seems he had it right

        Easy answer: Who's boot? Who's face?

        There's enough anger extant out here that they should be worried, perhaps even afraid, for their lives. "The peasants are revolting!" Yeah, and they're sharpening the guillotines.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 9:49am

    and this is why the various governments are utilising what ever data gathering and surveillance they can! it hasn't and never has had anything to do with terrorists or terrorism, it has always been about trying to keep ahead of the people when we want to kick off like we did over ACTA. if there are laws in place that prohibit any sort of demonstration, protest and any informing to others about protests, the security forces can get to the designated meeting places in time to stop things before they start and the people can be arrested and banged up for doing the slightest of things!!.
    the even bigger problem is that if we are not careful, the Planet is going to become one massive dictatorship with individual leaders and we will all become servants!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 9:57am

    lol
    They really believe that if people have a solid reason to riot they will care about these laws?

    So, when will the US shittalk about the Spanish democracy? Oh yeah right, they are still bending over for them so their "democracy" is perfect for the US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 12:18pm

      Of course it will stop them (US)

      I feel that many issues need to be protested against, and I support the protesters in many ways, but if it was legal, I would NOT be able to afford to do so, so yeah - it WOULD stop me - and there are probably lots of people like me that would be stopped by legislation like this. Also remember that if a protester commits a felony, and you gave them money or any type of help, you could be considered an accessory after or before the fact.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:10am

    Route around the damage

    Those who call for demonstrations through the Internet, social networks, or another other means may also be penalized for having committed a very serious offense.

    The circulation of riot images during demonstrations can also constitute a very serious offense, punishable by 600,000€.


    So instead, Spanish citizens can simply ask someone in a different country to call for demonstrations and circulate images.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 1:54pm

      Re: Route around the damage

      So instead, Spanish citizens can simply ask someone in a different country to call for demonstrations and circulate images.

      Yup.

      i) Coordinate with others across borders to help in each others' demonstrations.

      ii) Use throwaway phones so you can't be found to be the sender of anything. They'll likely outlaw that too, so they'll need to coordinate the supply and distribution of them.

      iii) Just before arriving at the demonstration, send an email to the appropriate authority's reporting address announcing your intent to participate in a peaceful demonstration.

      Have fun, try not to get shot, and see you when (if) you get out of jail.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:11am

    Franco is back in power? =b

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:16am

    Catalonia should split while there's still time.

    Oops, that's going to cost me 600,000€!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 1:20pm

      Re: Catalonia should split while there's still time.

      Ultimately that is probably the main thing this law is meant to quell. That and the expected demonstrations starting when the next wave of economic cuts hit.

      Spain, Italy and Greece are all turning bad in different ways:

      - Spain is turning to oldschool repressive measures.

      - Italy is turning towards their government instability and the massive corruption they know so well in politics. Especially after the new way to calculate economy.

      - Greece is turning towards the most brutal fascist group in Europe at the moment (Golden Dawn) versus an activistic denialist coalition (Syriza).

      Ireland and Portugal are the only countries who truely have left the PIIGS. Italy is on the fence towards recovering, Greece can at least see light at the end of the tunnel, while Spain still looks at a long darkness even if things are improving from horrible towards bad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    eaving (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:19am

    Question

    Could you actively discourage people from showing up at the offices of local government location, especially on Friday at 6pm? As long as one is pointing out it is inadvisable as the government frowns on organized protest...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Nom du Clavier (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:26am

      Re: Question

      "No your honour, I wasn't demonstrating. I came here as part of a flash mob... I mean we were all here at the same time because our driver's licenses were in need of renewal. Having to sit because the resulting line was so long doesn't make it a sit-in."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        BW (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 12:21pm

        Re: Re: Question

        that the judges will still find you guilty and setence you. Just think of the number of young girls who have gone to prison because they got a ride from a guy who was on his way to rob some store and ended up killing someone.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:26am

    The government has watched the Arab spring, and are scared shitless. Modern communications allows people to self organize, without any real leaders, and that can be almost impossible for governments to deal with. So they think they had better take steps now to prevent that happening, little realizing that they are making a popular uprising more likely by doing so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 16 Dec 2014 @ 3:02pm

      A western spring might spring into action

      Spain use might against the populace because might might be used against the privileged.

      Sadly, the US and the rest of Europe also force the issue. Arming the police for massacres and occupation, dressing police officers as demonstrators and smashing windows, jamming of cell phones, erasing evidence, and making loyal mass medias utterly untrustworthy. And so on.

      I assume crowd control is the motivation. Crowd as in the population. This has gone wrong before. Has they learned nothing from history?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:35am

    How does this tie in with the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly from the European Convention on Human Rights?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:36am

    Once again, another govenment must learn...

    ...that those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 10:50am

    Clearly, we need to see a revival of the time-honored profession of assassination.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rachel, 16 Dec 2014 @ 12:07pm

    I admit I wait for bated breath for the ECHR response to this law. I imagine that this law would violate Art. 10, though admittedly there are exceptions and well written law might- maybe- manage to get by and as Russia has proven the ECHR is not exactly a mighty sword. Its more like a really painful ATM machine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 2:15pm

    They have no grounds to call themselves a representative government

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 2:35pm

      Re:

      Oh they continue to be a representative government, it's just they're not representing the citizens at large, but only a small percentage of them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 6:02pm

    When a government is no longer willing to listen to it's people. Why would people continue to bestow such a government with consent and authority?

    The obvious answer is because the Spanish thug department will use physical violence against those attempting to undermine the government's authority.

    My answer is undermine their authority in little ways during your every day life. Death by a thousand cuts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 2:04am

    Psssh Span is a dead country anyway.

    All prepped to be kicked out of the Euro in June 2015...riots everywhere, fascist draconian laws in place.

    Judges bought off with foreign currency, and a government that openly murders anyone that looks like they might be a political challenge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 4:41am

    Surely the Spanish people won't stand for that - I'm sure when they read whats going on on their favourite news aggregator site.... ah - I see what they did there!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    here we go again, 17 Dec 2014 @ 4:37pm

    So, it's not law yet...

    That means it's still legal to call for action now...

    I hereby call for political protests and sharing of pictures taken at said protests by the good citizens of Spain. If this crap becomes law then ignore it. Continue to dissent and protest. If the government continues to oppress then revolt any way you can.

    To the rest of the world, it's time to South Park this thing; Catman-bra style... Somebody make a trendy hashtag and let's get some shirts printed, stat!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 12:58pm

    Give those folks a bigger shovel, please!

    Damn. I'd swear Spain must have gotten itself a truly christian government, because they certainly do apperar to be hell bent on taking their entire country to the "other side" as fast as possible.

    Is there a word for national insanity??
    How about national suicide??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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