back to article Spanish govt slammed over bizarre Catalan .cat internet registry cop raid

The Spanish government has come under increasing criticism for raiding the offices of the .cat internet registry in the lead-up to a referendum on Catalans' independence. On Wednesday morning, police entered the registry's headquarters in Barcelona and seized all of its computers. The cops also arrested six members of staff, …

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  1. graeme leggett

    Basque complication

    I hadn't made the connection with the Basque issue up to now.

    If greater autonomy for the Basque region is price of peace but that region is part of an autonomous or independent Catalan region, then it could get messy.

    1. Raumkraut

      Re: Basque complication

      I didn't think that there was any overlap between the Catalonia and Basque regions, and if the maps on Wikipedia are anything to go by, there isn't. They're pretty much on the opposite coasts of the "neck" between Spain and France, with a strip of land belonging to neither culture between, so I'm not sure where that assertion in the article comes from.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Basque complication

        The problem is that if Catalonia gets independence then the Bask region will have a president for them to get independence as well.

        The Spanish government are fighting this because the Catalan region is the most productive of all the Spanish regions. If they become independent where is the Spanish government get its money from?

        It will also open the can of worms on the French side of the border because there is a strong movement for the old area that was part of Catalonia before the French took over to be reunited with the Spanish part.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Basque complication

          *Basque

          *Precedent

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Basque complication

      The two regions are separate.

      The problem is central government doesn't want greater autonomy for either region because the other one will want it too.

      In that respect the Basque Country has a little more fiscal autonomy, it collects and passes the money to Madrid whereas Catalonia gets the money collected by Madrid and is then given its share. Catalonia has been trying to get the same deal for years but is told they can't have it.

      If Catalonia does actually get independence (doubtful this time aroubd), that immediately will cause a problem with Basque Country because some there will want independence too.

      1. trapper

        Re: Basque complication

        The Catalans have wanted their independence since before 1540; they fought and lost a couple of wars over it. The Basques have had theirs curtailed (such as it was) since 1839. Nothing new here, folks, "Spain" is and has long been a conglomerate of peoples, some of whom never wanted to be totally submerged in a whole and have been fighting it for centuries. And no, Madrid doesn't want anything that might give the Basque Separatists ideas - they fight back with bombings. ICANN has one foot in a can of worms here.

    3. gibberBCN

      Re: Basque complication

      The Basque Country and Catalunya are two totally separate Autonomous Communities of Spain. However, the Basque Country has a greater degree of autonomy. The most important difference is that the Basque Country collects taxes and then pays a proportion to the Spanish whereas in Catalunya taxes are paid directly to the Spanish state which in turn returns a proportion to Catalunya.

  2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Happy

    Fluffy.cat?

    Celebrates independence.

    Now where is she?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fluffy.cat?

      I was so hoping to go to that link to at least see a fluffy cat, or something cat related. And what do I get? Some random droning blog. For the shame, what has happened to you internet?

      Hell, a goatse troll would have been more interesting, even if immediate eyebleach would be needed afterwards. .

      Waste of a good domain, that.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Fluffy.cat?

        The a website on the .cat domain has to have some link to Catalonia or the Catalan language or culture, which is probably why you've never heard of it.

        Not sure how fluffy.cat qualifies. Perhaps they let it scrape in because it says "more Catalan content shortly" in Catalan at the start.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fluffy.cat?

          I can confirm

          myfluffy.cat is available however sadly videos.cat has gone.

          There are rules however,

          Content:

          A website in catalan (even partially) published within 6 months

          or

          A website promoting catalan culture (even partially) published within 6 months

          Would a picture of a cat in Barcelona work I wonder?

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Fluffy.cat?

            Cats drinking vermut?

  3. b0llchit
    Facepalm

    Information is a dangerous good

    Flow of information is the key to control.

    I guess that Spain needs to get a hold on facebook, twitter, snapchat, <whatever communication> domains too. Hell, while they are at it, they should shut down the internet and power too. Forbid books, pen and paper. Forbid verbal and non-verbal communication in the process too.

    The lesson from history is that any action creates a reaction. And, unlike mother nature, the reaction is often much stronger than the action. Spain has, apparently, not yet learned that lesson well enough.

    1. Lysenko

      Re: Information is a dangerous good

      You either have to go full NORK or you're just rearranging deck chairs. Otherwise it takes two minutes to register independentcatalonia.eu and they'll find that a damned sight harder to take down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        There is a third option. It's sly and careful and hidden. Slowly change the media and entertainment, books and culture people consume. It might be harder but what people don't see they cannot defend against.

        1. Vincent Ballard

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          That's essentially what the regional government has been doing for the past 30 years.

        2. aks Bronze badge

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          What on earth makes you think that's *not* being done?

          The thing hampering the Spanish (Madrid) side is that it will be harder for them to push the united side of the argument on Catalan-language websites, newspapers, magazines and books.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            > The thing hampering the Spanish (Madrid) side is that it will be harder for them to push the united side of the argument on Catalan-language websites, newspapers, magazines and books.

            Not so, actually. Mainstream newspapers in Spain tend to have a Catalan edition as well.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          " Slowly change the media and entertainment, books and culture people consume."

          This is the tactic that the USA and certain other countries have been pursuing for the last 25 or so years...

      2. Peter0563

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        Sadly not.

        People have already mirrored the referendum website referendum.cat outside the country at places like ref1oct.eu or referendum.ninja.

        Now guess what? From within Spain they’re not readily accessible because Spanish ISPs (Vodafone and Movistar were first but the others follow with a few days delay) all hijack their DNS resolution by order from the authorities.

        Modern democracy my ass.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          Not much separation of powers. The police or interior ministry spot a domain, gets on the blower to a judge, judge issues a court order to all the ISPs to block the DNS.

          This is abusing a law designed for copyright theft or hate speech.

          They'd have better luck distributing short URLs, e.g. TinyURL or goo.gl, via Twitter and having those redirect to an Amazon or Akamai address so they can reach everyone who doesn't use OpenDNS or Google DNS.

          1. Ogi

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            > This is abusing a law designed for copyright theft or hate speech.

            See this right here, right now, is why you should fight such laws, even if you disagree with Piracy or "hate speech" (which is particularly Orwellian in nature, as the government gets to decide what is or isn't "hate speech").

            Every time here in the UK, I see people cheering for a new law against "hate speech" or whatever, I bring up these examples, only to get shot down with "do you support hate speech" and other such drivel.

            If I even manage to explain to them that once you give the government a foot in the door, all bets are off and they can censor, I get intelligent responses like "don't be so paranoid, this is a liberal democracy, not North Korea!"

            Yeah well, here is an example, of a "western democracy" going at it, no less. If anything can come out of this sorry situation, it is examples of government abuse of laws for "terrorism" or "hate speech", or whatever else they dream up. Laws that seem to be proliferating in the west as of late...

          2. Vincent Ballard
            WTF?

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            The "gets on the blower to a judge" part of that is pretty much the essence of separation of powers, isn't it?

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              Yes, there is a government, a judiciary, and separation of powers.

              In cases like these, as we can see, nominally, in a BT/Openreach kind of way.

        2. Lysenko

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          Sure, they can try that, but without blocking FB, InstaGram, Twitter et.al. it is futile, as Turkey discovered. Next you need to turn into China and take down VPNs as well - and it still doesn't work.

          Dodgy dictators have thoroughly beta tested all available strategies over the last couple of decades and clearly established that you either use the NORKular option or you lose. I'm sure Havana will be happy to explain this to Madrid.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            I'm sure Havana will be happy to explain this to Madrid.

            Madrid seem to have gone back to the General Franco approach, I think they don't need any help from the Cubans. Maybe the Germans will offer help again "to bring order".

            1. jltallon

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              As explained everywhere else, what is being prosecuted is a crime: spending public money to serve a political party's interests (vs those of the Catalan People)

              Freedom of speech is fully working in Catalonia as everywhere else in Spain: public declarations, tweets, demonstrations, press articles .... everybody is perfectly able to express their opinions.

              But promoting the **so called** "referendum" (with NO guarantees whatsoever) using public money is a crime here. BTW, it's Catalan *Judges* who are ordering the webs blocked.

              I don't know... maybe british are just too used to having their representatives lying openly and wasting taxpayer money without consequence to realise. Mind you, we jail those proven to have committed a crime even when they belong to the ruling party (whatever it is at the time).

              Maybe we Spaniards could lend you (British) a lesson in Democracy and Justice ?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Information is a dangerous good

                > As explained everywhere else, what is being prosecuted is a crime: spending public money

                Bar the original one, the webs being shut down are run by individuals who just clone the relevant GitHub repository and set up their own server, with their own money, in their own time. Curiously, that doesn't seem to have stopped the public prosecutor from accusing those people of misusing public funds. I am rather tempted to set up a mirror myself so I can then accuse the prosecutor of falsely reporting a crime. >:)

                Btw, may I suggest that next time Mr Rajoy's cabinet wants to make a show of force, sending in a cruiser decorated with 50 ft tall Looney Tunes characters is not the best way of approaching the situation?

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              The moment any politician starts raving on about "the rule of law", I'm reminded that what the Nazis did was perfectly lawful, as was what happened in South Africa under Apartheid and what happened in Cambodia under Pol Pot.

          2. Suricou Raven

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            It actually works pretty well. The more hoops you make people jump through to read something, the fewer people will read it. Yes, the hardcore activists will mess around with VPNs in their quest for unfiltered information - but the common internet user will simply find another site to read, one a bit more sympathetic to government interests.

        3. jltallon
          FAIL

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          I guess you should know a bit more about you talk before expressing yourselves in such a sensitive matter ...

          The problem here is that separatists are breaking the law AND IGNORING DEMOCRACY !

          Democracy means that all Catalans should decide their future .... not just some tens of thousands who happen to have political power...

          ... won the same way that your Brexit promoters did, mind you: using blatant lies.

          The crime (which is what is being prosecuted by blocking the domains) is spending *public* money for something that is against the law.

          Spanish Supreme Law states that Spain is made of 17 regions. And also that, for anything that redefines Spain, ALL Spaniards need to vote. This was passed in referendum by ample majority (over 87%) with a turnover of about 70%.

          Compare to a meager 51% with relative low turnover for Brexit. Plus ever-growing policing and mass-spying.

          BRITISH DEMOCRACY MY ASS !

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            Hiding behind unjust laws are acts of state cowardice.

            The law you describe not only violates the United Nations principle of self determination but it also blocks any democratic route for any independence minded Catalans to achieve their aims. That's disenfrachising very approximately 3 million people going by opinion polls.

            So what the Spanish government, and you, are saying to Catalans is that if they want independence the only route open to them is by non democratic methods, ie violence. So you're actively suggesting violent insurrection by pro independence Catalans?

            Bizzare.

            1. David Davenport

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              The catalans need to organise a change to the spanish constitution to allow communities (or provinces or whatever) to secede from the union.

              Once they have done that, via the normal political channels, they can have a local referendum to decide whether they want to leave or not. the same would apply to all of the other communities as well, of course.

              At the moment, their "referendum" has been declared illegal under spanish law, and should therefore not take place.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            > I guess you should know a bit more about you talk before expressing yourselves in such a sensitive matter ...

            Not every Spaniard I have come across reacts with rudeness and insults when the subject of Catalonia comes up, but enough of them do to make me wonder if that is not part of the problem.

            > The problem here is that separatists are breaking the law AND IGNORING DEMOCRACY !

            Mr Rajoy and his supporters¹ have a very peculiar idea of democracy.

            > Democracy means that all Catalans should decide their future

            Sounds like a good idea. Maybe they should, I don't know... vote in a referendum? :-)

            ¹ It would be extremely unfair to generalise and tar all Spaniards with the same brush.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        https://github.com/GrenderG/referendum_cat_mirror.

        Of course, as you would speak from that bastion of democracy that is Sp... (err, never mind), GrenderG has been arrested.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          > as you would speak from

          Make that "expect from". Autocorrect, etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Information is a dangerous good

      > Hell, while they are at it, they should shut down the internet and power too.

      I bet you thought you were joking:

      "These measures include: taking to court 700 Catalan mayors for allowing preparations for the vote to go ahead, seizing campaign material and ballot papers, threatening to cut off power to polling stations, arresting and charging a newspaper editor accused of aiding the preparations for the referendum and banning a public meeting called in Madrid to discuss the issue. The Spanish government has now sent in the Civil Guard to occupy government buildings, with ministers and officials arrested, and has taken control of the Catalan government’s finances."

      Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/21/spains-dangerous-bid-to-block-catalan-vote

      1. jltallon

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        Surely you don't have Police fight crime ?

        That explains a lot ....

        The crime here being spending taxpayer money illegally. In extreme cases, sedition.

  4. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    ¡Ay, caramba!

    Their domain registrar is from Barcelona

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
  6. DougS Silver badge

    I imagine that could be a valuable domain

    If like some other country codes such as .to they sell to everyone. Lotta cat lovers who would likely pay $20 a year or whatever to have an email ending in .cat, or have their cat blog in a domain ending in .cat.

    Guess they must not sell them that way though, because I don't recall ever hearing of .cat previously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I imagine that could be a valuable domain

      > Guess they must not sell them that way though, because I don't recall ever hearing of .cat previously.

      They do not sell it that way. Years ago, well before the "liberalisation" of TLDs, Catalans wanted to have their our ccTLD, but met strong opposition from the Spanish government which refused to add them to the ISO-3166 list of two-letter codes for territorial abbreviations, so they worked on, and eventually got one of the first TLDs aside from .com, .net, .org, .edu, .mil. In this case, .cat is intended for "Catalan-speaking territories and the promotion of Catalan culture" or some such. In reality it works as a (popular) substitute for a ccTLD.

      Needless to say, at the time the Spanish government emptied their box of spanners on those guys wheels.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I noticed this in the article:

    "Basque region that includes parts of Catalonia as well as areas to west and parts of neighbouring France."

    Having lived in both Euskadi(the Basque Country) and Catalunya for a long time, it's news to me that there can be any geographical overlap between the two, as it would be for any Spanish person. After all, Bilbao and Barcelona are six hundred kilometres apart.

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      That is a howler. Thanks for the spot. Removed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That is a howler. Thanks for the spot. Removed.

        DOWN ON YOU KNEES! Admit you just guessed it, without consulting even a school atlas.

        I've made a similar mistake in the past at an important company presentation, and that was because I guessed it without checking. In these situations of lazy f**wits making "that's probably correct" guesses, Wikipedia is an absolute authority.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        While we're here, you might also want to change puntoCat to puntCat as "punto" is a Spanish word.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    Good this is far away from Russia

    Otherwise there might be a "spontaneous" "color" "revolution"...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Good this is far away from Russia

      It's OK.

      Let's observe how "right of self-determination" applies only if the results are to damage THE ENEMY. The very red one under our beds.

      If it is someone on "our" side the right is to have a dick on a stick. DICK ON A VERY BIG STICK.

      They Catalan should declare themselves Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Kosovan, Bosniak, Chechen (from the Dudaev and Basyev days), what else... Am I missing someone? Oh, they should not make any fatal mistakes such as declaring themselves Abhazian or Armenian from Nagorni Karabah for example, that is the other way around, no right of self-determination for those, naughty puppy, naughty puppy, bad puppy, sit where you should.

      In any case, "Crime of Sedition". In 21st century. Europe. F***ing hell. What next? Reintroduce the holy inquisition (I know Castilla i Leon have a great form in that one, so probably should not give them ideas). They should have contracted some advisors from White hall to advise them how to rig an "independence referendum" via a gigantic pile of false promises and revert on half of them two years later.

  9. Vincent Ballard
    Headmaster

    It's not that simple

    "The region, in north east Spain, is fiercely autonomous with own language, customs and language"

    Although having their "own language" may be important enough to mention it twice, it's (as usual) more complicated than that. That language is co-official with Castilian (Spanish) not just in Catalonia but also in the Valencian Community* and the Balearic Islands. Some Catalans want independence just for the autonomous region of Catalonia; others for the three Catalan-speaking autonomous regions of Spain, and others for an even larger area including parts of France ("from Alicante to Perpignan") and want to subsume Andorra into their nation too.

    With respect to Andorra, by the way, I'm not sure why the article says "the government of Spain and the regional government of Andorra" rather than "the national governments of Spain and Andorra". Andorra is a member state of the UN, not a region.

    * Even that's not simple. Politically, the Valencian language is distinct from the Catalan language. Linguistically, it's a dialect. The Valencian regional government said harsh things about the linguists it hired to write a Valencian dictionary after they defined the Valencian language as a dialect of Catalan. But to confuse things even more, the "official" form of Valencian which is taught in schools and required in the exams which gain you CV points when applying for jobs in the regional civil service is much closer to Catalan as spoken in Barcelona than it is to Valencian as spoken in the villages of Valencia.

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