The Spanish Government intends to pass a reform of the Penal Code that
would criminalise the organisation of street protests that “seriously
disturb the public peace”, by any kind of media including online social
networks such as Facebook.
On 11 April 2012, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the Spanish interior minister,
announced in the Congress the government was planning a reform of the
Penal Code to criminalise those involved in organising street protests,
following the widespread series of demonstrations that have taken place
in Spain since May 2011. The law intends to prevent the organisation of
any kind of protest organised through the Internet, thus qualifying as
criminal any civil demonstration or public gathering.
The Spanish bill is extremely worrying not only by the censure it
implies but by its implications as well, the measures being also totally
disproportionate with regard to the declared goal in opposition to the
necessity to safeguard people’s freedoms.
The bill could actually lead to criminalise the sharing of information
online. According to the proposal, retweeting an event considered by the
government violent, would be liable to two years imprisonment. As
Internet Sans Frontieres points out, the dissemination and sharing of
information “should not be criminalised in a disproportionate way,
without taking into account the rights and freedoms of individuals,
including the right to express freely on the Internet.” The
determination of a violent event would implicitly lead to the violation
of privacy as, in order to determine that someone is “organizing a
violent rally over the Internet”, the Government has to violate the
right to privacy of Internet users. Also, such a qualification of an
action can lead to an administrative injunction, without any control of
an independent judge, to assess the profile of a user creating an event
on a social network or calling for a demonstration on his/her website.
Certainly, the reaction of the Spanish Internet users was very strong
and Twitter campaigns have already occurred such as #SoyCriminal (I am a
Criminal) or #HolaDictatura (Hello Dictatorship). The Spanish government
may get exactly the reverse reaction they are searching for – more
public demonstrations organised online.
Spain Wants To Criminalise Online Organisation Of Social Protest
The Interior says that calling for gatherings on the Internet that may
turn to violence will be a crime (only in Spanish, 11.04.2012)
Spain accused of ‘draconian’ plans to clamp down on protests (11.04.2012)
The violent callings on the Internet will be criminal crimes (only in