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Spanish Government Threatens to Censor Social Media

Imagen subida a Twitter por @Serge_Pamies

Image uploaded to Twitter by @Serge_Pamies

«We have to combat cybercrime and promote cybersecurity, and to clean up undesirable social media.» These were the words of the Spanish Minister of Interior, Jorge Fenández Díaz, after the wave of comments published on social media about the assassination of Isabel Carrasco, president of the Province of León.

Isabel Carrasco, a member of the People's Party, was shot near her home [es] in León, allegedly by the mother of a fellow party member who blamed Carrasco for truncating the political career of her daughter. Carrasco became famous a few years ago for occupying 13 positions [es] in the administration and private businesses. In 2011, it was revealed that she had increased her salary by 13 percent, but this did not prevent her from justifying budget cuts in 2012, saying that [es] «Everything little thing can't be free». According to La Voz de Galicia [es],

fue condenada en primera instancia por presunto amaño de unas oposiciones en la Diputación de León. (…) La oposición le echó en cara haber pagado facturas de centros de belleza con dinero de la diputación (…). Los socialistas de León la denunciaron por malversación, al sostener que acudía a los consejos de Caja España en coche oficial y con chófer y pasaba facturas de kilometraje.

she was sentenced in first instance for allegedly tampering with the civil service examinations of the Province of León. (…) The opposition accused her of paying bills at beauty centers with money from the province (…) The socialists of León denounced her for embezzlement, arguing that she went to the Caja España board meetings in an official car with a driver and claimed mileage allowances.

Shortly after learning about her death, many Internet users started to leave comments on social media, especially Twitter. Although the majority expressed their condolences to the family of the victim, there were some that took advantage of the moment to openly criticize the politician, including mocking her assassination:

Well I'm thrilled about the death of Isabel Carrasco, the day Aguirre dies I'll hold a party.

The citizens didn't get to see Isabel Carrasco put in jail, but the consolation is that she's already rotting just the same.

Isabel Carrasco threatened people. She was sentenced for fraud…she screwed the husband of the murderer and ruined her daughter. #jesuschrist

These tweets generated a strong reaction of rejection in certain circles. A few weeks after «Operation Spider» [es], in which the Civil Guard detained more than 20 people for «defense of terrorism», these circles returned to raise their voices to demand regulation of social media. The spokesman of the People's Party, Alfonso Alonso, described social media [es] as a «place poorly recommended». More surprise led a socialist, the spokesman of the Health of the PSOE [Spanish Workers' Socialist Party], José Martínez Olmos, to write in his blog [es]:

Me parece que ha llegado el momento de regular las redes sociales porque no todo vale y menos cuando se incita a la violencia o se denigra a las personas o las instituciones.

Una regulación que incluya desde un observatorio, un código de conducta, hasta los motivos para actuar y la manera de hacerlo desde los poderes públicos para castigar aquellas conductas que ya lo están cuando de otros medios se trata.

It seems to me that the moment has come to regulate social media because not everything is suitable and less so when it incites violence or denigrates people or institutions.

A regulation should include observation and a code of conduct, so that the reasons for acting and the manner of doing are established for public powers to punish those actions that are already punished when it comes to other media.

The Federal Union of Politics has published a note [es] that proposes a change in legislation with the alleged intent of protecting minors, relatives of victims, and users in general:

Es necesaria y urgente la regulación penal de nuevas modalidades delictivas que van más allá de las injurias y calumnias, tipificar la violencia ejecutada en masa a través de internet.

(…)

Establecer la correcta identidad de los usuarios y castigar específicamente estas conductas podría ser una vía de solución.

It is necessary and urgent to regulate new criminal methods that go beyond libel and slander, and criminalize the violence executed en masse through the Internet.

(…)

To establish the correct identity of users and punish specifically these actions could be one solution.

Imagen subida a Twitter por el usuario @lluisahicart

Imagen uploaded to Twitter by user @lluisahicart

Others are completely against the regulation. According to europapress [es],

el exjuez Baltasar Garzón ha calificado de “sorprendente” que el Ministerio de Interior “dedique esfuerzos a investigar” lo que se dice en las redes sociales porque en caso de que se lancen informaciones “injuriosas o calumniosas” quienes deben actuar son “quienes se sientan agraviados”.

The ex-judge has been surprised that the Ministry of the Interior “dedicated efforts to investigate” what is said on social media, because in cases where “injurious or calumnious” information is published, those who should act are those who feel offended”.

According to eldiario.es [es], the association of judges Francisco de Vitoria opines that the modification of the law would be «an excuse for the government to cut back freedom of expression,» and that «limitations of this type, to prevent these types of expressions, only exist in China and under dictatorships.» Judges for the Democracy consider the proposal «an expansive punitive action, excessive and disproportionate.»

The History PhD and blogger María Castejón wrote in her blog «Las princesas también friegan» [The princesses also scrub]:

Isabel Carrasco ha muerto a mano de una de las suyas. Salvando las distancias, todo indica a que se debe a una venganza personal como consecuencia de la falta de favores de la víctima hacia sus verduga. (…)

La casta política acude estupefacta y bastante descolocada a la ejecución de una de los suyos. (…) Apuntan a las redes sociales, esas que han verbalizado de forma directa y sincera que el asesinato de Carrasco no lo consideramos como propio, (…). Su objetivo está claro, criminalizar las opiniones que cuestionan y ponen en peligro su régimen.

Isabel Carrasco has died at the hand of her own. Except for the distance, everything indicates that it was a personal vengeance and a consequence of the lack of favor between the victim and her executioner. (…)

The political caste is stunned and a little creeped out by the execution of one of their own. (…) They point to social media, which has verbalized directly and sincerely that we do not consider the assassination of Carrasco as our own, (…) Their objective is clear: to criminalize the opinions that question and put in danger their regime.

For their part, Tweeters have reacted by creating two hashtags, #TuiteaParaEvitarElTalego [Tweet to stay out of Jail] y #LaCárcelDeTwitter [Twitter Prison], through which many Internet-users vent their frustration against politicians who want to silence them:

The B accounts of the #PP [People's Party] also are going to be persecuting like the accounts of #twitter? if that's so I offer them mine #TuiteaParaEvitarElTalego [Tweet to stay out of Jail]

#LaCarcelDeTwitter [Twitter Prison] pic.twitter.com/RcADT0ZWE3

If the People's Party is a mafia, who votes for the PP isn't defending the crime?#LaCárcelDeTwitter [Twitter Prison]

They kill each other and it's Twitter's fault …#TuiteaParaEvitarElTalego [Tweet to stay out of Jail]

Si @gobiernoespa [es] knew what I am thinking right now, not even our Lady of Fairest Love could could save me from jail #TuiteaParaEvitarElTalego [Tweet to stay out of Jail]

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