Spanish Judge Says Use Of 'Extreme Security Measures' For Email Is Evidence Of Terrorism

from the making-Franco-proud dept

After a series of moves that include introducing copyright laws that threaten the digital commons and open access, as well as criminalizing online calls for street demonstrations, Spain is fast emerging as a serious rival to Russia when it comes to grinding down the digital world. Unfortunately, it seems that lack of understanding extends to the judiciary too, as shown by recent events reported by Rise Up, an "autonomous body based in Seattle", which aims to provide secure and private email accounts for "people and groups working on liberatory social change". Here's what happened to some of its users in Spain:

On Tuesday December 16th, a large police operation took place in the Spanish State. Fourteen houses and social centers were raided in Barcelona, Sabadell, Manresa, and Madrid. Books, leaflets, computers were seized and eleven people were arrested and sent to the Audiencia Nacional, a special court handling issues of "national interest", in Madrid. They are accused of incorporation, promotion, management, and membership of a terrorist organisation.
The charges are extremely serious, and yet according to the Rise Up post, the accused have not been provided with any details of their alleged terrorist crimes. The judge in the case has, however, given a rather worrying justification for keeping many of them in prison:
Four of the detainees have been released, but seven have been jailed pending trial. The reasons given by the judge for their continued detention include the posession of certain books, "the production of publications and forms of communication", and the fact that the defendants "used emails with extreme security measures, such as the RISE UP server".
That is, merely trying to keep your email secure is now viewed in Spain as evidence that you are a terrorist. As the post points out:
Many of the “extreme security measures” used by Riseup are common best practices for online security and are also used by providers such as hotmail, GMail or Facebook.
Moreover:
The European Parliament’s report on the US NSA surveillance program states that "privacy is not a luxury right, but the foundation stone of a free and democratic society".
But in Spain, it seems, daring to lay down that "foundation stone of a free and democratic society" (pdf) is now taken as evidence of terrorist tendencies. The country's long-time dictator, "El Generalíssimo" Franco, would doubtless have been proud of his successors.

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Filed Under: email, encryption, security, spain, terrorism


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  • identicon
    Jason, 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:18am

    Sadly, it makes perfect (bizarre) sense, they're just living by their favorite saying.

    "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide."

    Ergo, if you're hiding something, you must be doing something wrong.

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

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:30am

      Re:

      Ergo, if you're hiding something, you must be doing something wrong.

      By that argument the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, GCHQ etc etc are all terrorist organisations!

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

      • icon
        TruthHurts (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:45am

        Re: Re:

        Ummm - We already knew that they were terrorist organizations.
        They are right up there with ISIS/ISIL - extremists in their own right, breaking the law left and right and not being held accountable.

        Those groups in the US are constitutional terrorists wielding weapons of constitutional destruction and should be arrested, tried for treason and executed.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:42am

        Re: Re:

        By that argument the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, GCHQ etc etc are all terrorist organisations!

        And they aren't?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re:

        "By that argument the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, GCHQ etc etc are all terrorist organisations!"

        It's only terrorism when someone else does it!

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

      • identicon
        observer, 9 Jan 2015 @ 1:50pm

        Re: Re:

        They draw their power from scaring people. Not so different from terrorists, when it comes down to it.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          They're better funded, and backed by a government. That is pretty much the only difference between 'official' terrorists and most government agencies these days.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:34am

      Re:

      Funny how often those who use that saying go to extreme measures to hide what they are doing. You'd almost thing they were doing something wrong...

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

  • identicon
    David, 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:31am

    Same old, same old

    If you weren't a criminal, you would not be making use of your constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 10 Jan 2015 @ 1:58pm

      Re: Same old, same old

      If you weren't a criminal, you would not be making use of your constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

      Sadly, there is video of a police officer telling someone almost exactly that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:40am

    Other extreme security measures:
    - Envelopes
    - Whispering
    - Pig Latin
    - Thinking to yourself
    - Wearing sunglasses at night
    - Keeping statements "in the vault"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:46am

    who started this ridiculous afront on peoples privacy and freedom? who did as much as possible to help this happen? you dont have to look very hard to arrive at the steps of some industries in L.A or very hard to find the politicians that helped! these events that are trying to achieve exactly the same things as Hitler, but under a pseudonym rather than the title of Fascism, need to be reigned in very quickly because they are spreading fast now, not dribbling along as before. the 'toe in the water' test of going after ordinary people and/or small sites gradually intensified until we have the situation today, one that should, in all reality, scare the crap out of people because unless there is a serious push back, it isn't going to stop until it is worldwide. every single person is going to be spied on for every second of every day and courts are doing whatever they can to assist this along! when judges hand down reasons like this one did, you know you're in deep shit without the proper shoes! and being part of the EU is no help because the rulings can be and are ignored by governments and courts as they feel like it!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:55am

      Re:

      Well... Godwin's Law, it has its good and bad applications.

      The general idea is that it is not possible to be as bad as Hitler unless you are gassing the Jews, but if we have to get to that point before we can make those comparisons then we are doing something wrong.

      I assure you, as history has proven time and again... the Tree of Liberty must be refreshed with blood of Patriots and Tyrants from time to time.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:49am

    Next on today's agenda: Locating a suitable dormant volcano for the new government capital

    So an oppressive government with a penchant for spying on it's citizens and cracking down on dissent and protests against it's actions, now claims that it's not only illegal, but evidence of terrorist activity for it's citizens to try and defend themselves.

    ... are they trying to win the 'Most Obviously Oppressive Government' award or something?

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

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:16am

      Re: Next on today's agenda: Locating a suitable dormant volcano for the new government capital

      And they win bonus hypocrite points for using their own secure systems and fighting transparency.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 10 Jan 2015 @ 1:59pm

      Re: Next on today's agenda: Locating a suitable dormant volcano for the new government capital

      Next on today's agenda: Locating a suitable dormant volcano for the new government capital

      Perhaps an active one would be better.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:02am

    Earth 1984

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:19am

    I just have a bad feeling its gonna get worst before it gets better

    They've already succesfully fooled the majority into believing and fearing one of their fellow human beings is out to get them, just for disagreeing..............1 year ago, i was gobsmacked by their gumcha, and now here we are

    Its gonna get worst, should it even get better.......

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:27am

    Oh what a wonderful world...

    Hiding your money in a tax shelter = Innovator and Idol.
    Hiding facts about obvious murder by your partner in the police force = Public hero.
    "Hiding" the bribing of politicians = You get your own personal laws approved.

    Hiding your emails = Terrorist.

    Like William Wallace in Braveheart you desperately scream "FREEEDOOOOOMMMMmmmmmm......" before you have your guts spilled and your head chopped off by the "man"

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:27am

    Closing your window blinds

    is evidence of terrorism.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:39am

      Re: Closing your window blinds

      missing a finger in America means you might be a potential domestic terrorist.

      That is not satire its actually 1 of the things listed for DHS to be on the lookout for.

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

      • identicon
        Michael, 9 Jan 2015 @ 9:04am

        Re: Re: Closing your window blinds

        If they look in my direction, I'd be happy to give them the finger.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 9:44am

        Re: Re: Closing your window blinds

        Yet more evidence that those in the government are completely incapable of telling fiction from fact. Seriously, Assassin's Creed is a game(and they don't even have to lose a finger after the first game).

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 12:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Closing your window blinds

          In Alamut by Bartol, the hashashin had a missing finger.
          If I recall correctly, that's where the phrase
          Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.
          came from.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:30am

    The War on the Unusual

    I think Bruce Schneier called this sort of thing "the war on the unusual" -- anybody that doesn't conform to a certain group of nearly arbitrary expectations is considered suspicious. Computers make the war on the usual so much easier to implement because computers are by their very nature rigid and inflexible so any minor variation sticks out like a sore thumb.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:30am

    In the post 9/11 world

    Trying to protect yourself from snoopers...

    Is apparently a crime! Or at least they WANT it to be!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:30am

    Spin still fascist

    The Conservative party of Spain is still a fascist party in disguise.

    All its founders were war criminals, and the current top only rose by corruption, blackmail and murder.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:34am

      Re: Spin still fascist

      Well, that can be said for any government...

      Quick name a government that did not rise to power while standing in a pool of blood?

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

      • identicon
        David, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:36am

        Re: Re: Spin still fascist

        Switzerland?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:38am

        Re: Re: Spin still fascist

        how about the Canadian one? we asked the British for our right to sovereignty, instead of waging war to get it.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Cow Herd, 9 Jan 2015 @ 11:12am

          Re: Re: Re: Spin still fascist

          The US did have to wage war to get our independence from the British. I'm glad for Canada that you didn't have to wage war. But I suspect the US war of independence might have had some minor impact on the British decision.

          However, you did end up with French-Canadians. So it's not a total win. Of course, we ended up with New Jersey.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Spin still fascist

            Fuck you, you anglo-saxon racist.

            Quebec is the only province left that has balls. A lot of the good social aspects in Canada is thanks to the french presence in the second most important province in the country.

            And Jefferson wanted us in the US. We didn't answer during the Patriot wars of the 1830's. It was a tacit, yes please invade and remove these poms with no taste in food and love of indian genocide and french canadian subjugation by the Catholic Church. Hell, in the 50's in Quebec it was like in the US 13 colonies still, all thanks to the tacit approval of the english that only Catholic Church would succeed in keeping us down.

            And it's not like we tried to get out of that country we didn't sign to (not to mention natives), that's right, the constitution is null and void since we didn't sign it. 2 referenda later, including the most likely fudged with 49,6% yes 50,4% no in our province in 1995 to get out of the country, the secession movement has been taking blows and is more unrealistic everyday.

            If you were just being facetious, fine. But you'd be surprised at how many english Canadians once they gotta move to Quebec for college (we have the best universities in the country) like McGill and the ÉTS (Canada's MIT,in french though), the english one is clearly University of Waterloo in Ontario.

            And not only "Frenchies" revolted and sported the Patriot flag in the 1830's, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Canada_Rebellion. Although, unlike for us, kids do not get taught about it in Ontario, which was Upper Canada then, Quebec was Lower Canada (has to do with the ways of the rivers flow). If only they knew. But nope, Orwellian removal of that part of their history was removed pretty much early on in the 1900's. Can't have another American-like revolution can we!

            My great great grandfather escaped the massacre of 1837 to Massachussets so a lot of my great uncles and grandpa even have british names and they used a lot of english expressions, more than the average, and I don't live in Montreal, the city of the subjugation.

            Quebec population has also fought a fight for the rest of the country for student tuition hikes, it's a semi-victory, not a 80% ridiculous raise, but something "indexed to the cost of life"....when we signed in 1979 with the OCDE that countries signing that treaty (ratified, all of em too) that the goal was to bring university free, as guaranteed in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our equivalent of your Bill Of Rights, it's better since it was made in the early 80's, much more updated and less open to debate like those who believe everything NOT written in the constitution is fine (probably what Obama believes, and his arch-mentor Alexander Hamilton (that damn creol) who said debt was awesome.

            Be careful saying things close to the eugenics racism of the 1800's that considered french and Irish people not white, yeah, the Irish, probably the most white creatures on earth were considered unwhite, like the French, but the french to a lesser degree.

            I hope there's a translated copy of the "Nègre Blanc d'Amérique" for you to read.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Spin still fascist

              *If you were just being facetious, fine. But you'd be surprised at how many english Canadians once they gotta move to Quebec for college (we have the best universities in the country) like McGill * enjoy their time here, especially the very low costs of living in Montreal compared to the 2 other large cities. Isn't Vancouver number 2 as most expensive to live in? I'd blame the Olympics for that.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Spin still fascist

              Calm down Francis

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

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 10 Jan 2015 @ 2:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Spin still fascist

              Fuck you, you anglo-saxon racist.

              French-Canadian isn't a race, is it? And I'm sure New Jerseyan isn't.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:32am

    Re:

    And the judge is well known for letting drug gangsters of the hook.

    In other words corruption from top to bottom.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:35am

    Today I learned that some of my fellow co-workers are terrorists, and that I work for a terrorist organization.

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

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:48am

    Looks like Franco is saddling up, and getting ready to ride.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:29am

    This is why we should Encrypt All The Things

    This has been mentioned as far back as the time when PGP was first released.

    The most important reason for everyone to encrypt their communications, even when there's no real need, is so that those who do have good reasons to encrypt their communications don't stand out.

    If everyone sends their mail in postcards, those who use envelopes look suspicious; if everyone sends their mail in envelopes, nobody looks suspicious.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:55am

      Re: This is why we should Encrypt All The Things

      That. But socially accepted and common behavior haven't stopped some people from trying to criminalize such behavior (see: MAFIAA).

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

      • icon
        beltorak (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 1:08pm

        Re: Re: This is why we should Encrypt All The Things

        this fight is arguably easier tho. it is harder for many people to justify sharing copies of movies that they didn't pay for; it is not nearly as hard as saying "i encrypt all my emails just because". sure, it might be weird, but it's not immoral by almost anyone's definition. one has a moral stigma whether or not everyone does it, like masturbation; the other doesn't.

        yet.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:05pm

      Re: This is why we should Encrypt All The Things

      I'm trying to have everyone of my friends install the otr plugin for Pidgin so we can have end to end encryption. And if using it for facebook conctacts, it leaves a nice "encrypted" in the chats in case someone who shouldn't look takes a peak.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:35am

    have to keep the masses suppressed otherwise they might rise up in dissent

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:50am

    Once, again, for the tone-deaf:

    "What's good for me is not for thee."

    I hate moronic people in power.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 9:20am

      Re:

      Or, their smart. See, if they want to keep power: criminalize all ways to communicate without monitoring, then attack the people who say anything that could harm them. Of course, this ploy requires the masses don't know what they're up to, so they have to use encryption.

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

  • icon
    Max (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 10:15am

    Let's play a game! Please fill in the missing word: "Nobody expects the _______ inquisition..."
    hugs an kisses,
    Torquemada

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 10:18am

    What is extreme measures? Installing Enigmail in Thunderbird and hoping most of your friends do so ?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 10:34am

      Re:

      Extreme Measures: Spanish for 'Anything that makes it more difficult for those in power to browse through your personal information and spy on you.'

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:08pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, they can get screwed, spanish isn't one of the 2 official languages in my country.

        But really, Spain is having enough trouble already. Why aren't they doing something tangible to help their fellow citizens who have like 25% unemployment (a number probably close to America, since America doesn't count those who gave up looking for a job).

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 12 Jan 2015 @ 10:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "since America doesn't count those who gave up looking for a job"

          That's not actually true. In the US, there are six different official ways unemployment is calculated. One of those ways doesn't count people who are not actively looking, but others do. The number that the media usually reports is the one that doesn't count them.

          Currently, that number is 5.9% (as of last September). The full unemployment rate, counting all able-bodied people whether or not they're seeking employment, was 11.7% last September.

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

  • identicon
    New Mexico Mark, 9 Jan 2015 @ 10:34am

    Minimum qualification?

    Many of the “extreme security measures” used by Riseup are common best practices for online security and are also used by providers such as hotmail, GMail or Facebook.

    Hence my lack of confidence that Hotmail, Gmail, or Facebook are truly keeping my information secure from ubiquitous surveillance.

    In many countries where Christians suffer persecution, the greatest qualification for a pastor/teacher is not seminary or success, it is whether that person has truly suffered for their faith. Long-term imprisonment, torture, family members killed, etc. are all evidence that they truly practice what they preach, and are not either someone sent to infiltrate or someone who will easily cave when the pressure is on.

    Likewise, I'm beginning to look at incidents like this as the minimum qualification for a secure services provider. If gummints hate 'em, I tend to think they may be doing things right.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 12:55pm

    Strange

    Ask yourself something strange..

    IF they wish to REQUIRE our emails to be PUBLIC..
    The I WISH for the Government and Corporations to BE PUBLIC..

    REALLY..let them go first..

    oNLY PROBLEM WITH no ENCRYPTION is all the fud, that buries it.. anything can be changed along the way, it can be augmented, infected intransit..

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 2:56pm

    Other users of encryption...

    I wonder, did the Spanish courts just declare their own military and banking networks to be terrorists, since both use encryption as part of their security?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:45pm

    Spain sure is acting very authoritarian recently. Perhaps even to the point to totalitarianism.

    - Right to be forgotten
    - No calls for public demonstrations on social media
    - Encrypted emails are a sign of guilt
    - Posting news snippets requires a license and financial compensation to the referral site

    Spanish politicians must have bags of money being thrown at them by special interest groups. It's the only plausible explanation for this much corruption in such a short period of time. The Spanish economy must be floundering and the politicians are cashing out any way they can.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2015 @ 2:48am

    "That is, merely trying to keep your email secure is now viewed in Spain as evidence that you are a terrorist."

    Considering that the new definition of "terrorist" is actually the old definition for "dissident", methinks that, (while they have not yet actually come out and stated such), all of the ruling millionaires of the Five Eyes Nations, consider any citizen who encrypts their email to be a terrorist as well, and thus legally without civil rights.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2015 @ 5:10am

    So they tried to resurrect Franco and having funny ideas about technology?

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

  • identicon
    I read old BOOKS!, 13 Jan 2015 @ 6:34am

    I read old BOOKS!

    we all use encrypted email and chat in our own encrypted chat/email/cloud servers ...
    but "possession of certain books" !!! WTF BOOKS???
    man THAT is the scary part... which ones?
    even my grandpa has a ton of creepy books, is that terrorism?
    are we adding Fahrenheit_411 to the old 1984/brave_new_world combo?

    also:
    isn't Spain's State and government DESIGNED by FRANCO? (some people seem to ignore it is just his heritage to the world )
    isn't RISEUP server's located in the US?
    WOW imagine if they were found to have a secure email account with a server OUTSIDE the US?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2015 @ 6:42am

    the separation between the STATE and the NATION in SPAIN is so big that the state is very scared. As they should be...

    At least they should always have an helicopter ready on the roof, just in case.
    prepare the "bolas" accordingly...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2015 @ 12:20pm

    Je suis Snowden.

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


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