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Spain Passes Draconian Laws Affecting Internet Freedom

Spain Passes Draconian Laws Affecting Internet Freedom

by P. H. MadoreMarch 29, 2015

For a few years, there have been grumblings in Spain about the attempts to pass laws which forbid the photographing of police officers as well as various types of civil disobedience. Tolerance of civil disobedience is globally seen as a hallmark of a free society, but now “unauthorized” protesters in Spain will face steep fines, and photographing police in the line of duty is now illegal.

Perhaps more interesting to our audience, however, are the new heavy-handed regulations regarding online activities such as pirating movies and games. If it can be deemed to be done for “commercial purposes,” which is a vague concept, piracy can now be punished by up to three years in prison. Such laws seem to be popping up worldwide, involving the government in the private affairs of content creators and consumers.

Also read: NYPD Hacks Wikipedia With False Information

Cyberactivism and Anti-Terrorism

21-spain-2In addition to the laws which forbid the photographing of police or the organization of “unauthorized” protests, citizens who post online about civil disobedience events could also be subject to the criminal prosecution. Specifically, the law states:

Distribution or public dissemination through any medium, of messages or slogans that incite the commission of any offense of disorderly conduct under Article 557 of the Penal Code, or serve to reinforce the decision to carry them out shall be punished with a fine of three to twelve months or imprisonment from three months to a year.

Most onerous of this is “serve to reinforce.” Does this mean that people posting on social media in support of protesters will be just as guilty as those protesting? Time will tell, as the laws take effect in July, and following that, will be enforced.

Perhaps worst for hackers of a political bent, it is now a terrorist act to attack a government website. Additionally, the very act of buying a Virtual Private Network subscription can be considered illegal.

Illegal to “Glorify and Publicly Justify” Crime

It may be hard to believe, but the government has actually made it illegal to state in a public way that one agrees with something illegal. While doing so is obviously not the same as actually breaking the law, now those who “glorify” or “publicly justify” something deemed a crime under the new law can be subject to up to eighteen months in prison. From the law:

Glorification and public justification of crimes under Articles 572-577 or those who participated in its execution or performance of acts involving disrepute, contempt or humiliation of victims of terrorist offenses or their families, shall be punished with imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of twelve to eighteen months.

Has Franco Returned?

Often forgotten about Spain is that the fascist Francisco Franco was in power until 1975. During his reign, he executed some between 200 and 400,000 political opponents. His era was one of severe repression characterized by labor camps and strict limits on political freedoms.

Such laws as these would not have been a surprise to Spanish citizens during that time, but in the modern era of democracy, they seem to have no place. While many would consider some of the changes, such as steep penalties on child and revenge pornographers, to be legitimate, these reasonable laws come at the cost of numerous civil liberties. Not to mention, a new widespread reduction of accountability of the police force will now be in effect since it is illegal for citizens to document any police misconduct.

Read the English translation of the new laws here.

Images from Shutterstock.

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  • fabrica64

    I think freedom of expression is an absolute concept, so there should be no law restricting it… but pirating media is stealing, so defending it is like defending the right to steal. And “commercial purposes” is not a vague concept, it’s very clear, it’s when you make a profit from handling (distributing or selling) pirated media.

    • jdbo

      You are contradicting yourself…. think again you can still have the right to do it now…..

      • fabrica64

        Do you mean freedom of expression includes freedom to steal?

        • jdbo

          This is YOUR meaning… Thus the contradictions:
          freedom AND stealing
          freedom of speach AND “pirating media”.
          Your “… but” is mainly propaganda against freedom of speach.
          Am I wrong? Why? Think again…

          • fabrica64

            Sorry but I don’t understand you. I am for freedom of speech but I think distributing works done by others without their permission and making profit on it without sharing this profit with them is stealing. I don’t see contradiction unless you think private property is against freedom of speech.

          • jdbo

            You don’t want to understand:

            THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO LINK BETWEEN FREEDOM OF SPEACH AND “stealing work done by others”.

            How is it possible you don’t understand this????
            Or maybe you don’t understand at all the meaning of “freedom of speach”.

            There is ALREADY many many many many many many laws against the stealing of work done “by others”….

            Here the propaganda wants ONLY to link any stupid thing to “freedom of speach” in the minds of the readers in order to FORBID “freedom of speach”.

            Totally useless propaganda… You are answering always very quickly than you are the propaganda, aren’t you? Why? Are you a cop or related?

  • Pete Rossetti

    whats that got to do with the price of milk?

    • jdbo

      religions… mainly… again! loool….

  • Private_Eyescream

    The Jews are pushing again to imprison the world in their tyranny and they are over-reaching again.