Internet Freedom in Spain
In Spain, there are no clear cut regulations on internet access or use. However, there is a clear restriction on press freedom. Recent reports show that in Spain, people can get imprisoned for simple acts such as joking about terrorist activities in Spain.
This restriction on data privacy and protection date back to the 1978 Spanish Constitution, which heavily protects the privacy of persons and their families. This would be proven useful for any public figure in Spain, as most privacy and data protection laws would render them even more untouchable to journalists, even though they were mainly covering news related to the exercise of public functions.
In 2012, Mario Costeja Gonzalez sued Google for violating his right to privacy when Google made available details regarding his bankruptcy. He claims that he has requested Google to remove this information from its search engine, but Google refused. The European Court of Justice ruled that a person’s right to privacy should triumph over any economic interest of a firm.
In one very recent case, Cassandra Vera, a 21-year-old student, was sentenced to a year in prison for making terrorist jokes on Twitter, a social media platform. The Criminal Court’s ruling appears to be too harsh as her jokes did not clearly manifest clear means of gathering support for terrorist causes, contrary to provisions which clearly punishes only acts that may trigger a terrorist movement or attack. This is not an isolated case as there are currently at least 70 people facing indictment for making jokes about government.
This is of no surprise. Since 2013, the government of Spain has already made gag laws presumably designed to “protect citizens and their security,” but it essence, it gives the police the right to fine people for anything they consider disruptive to their job or authority.
Because of this, an influx of people has been fined for posting concerns about their local authorities over social media sites. This is a far outcry to an actual legal threat or social harm.
The Public Security Act even prescribes fines for any unauthorized use of photos of public officials should they consider such use detrimental to their, and their families’ safety. Plenty of journalists were fined for using photos or refusing to take down images or footage of events and demonstrations in Spain. Journalists Axier Lopez and Juan Carlos Perez Diaz were both individually fined $700 for using unauthorized photos and not deleting images of incidents that they needed to deliver the news.
In 2014, in hopes to create government transparency, the Transparency Act took effect requiring guests at government meetings be disclosed to the public. This was proven ineffective as in April 2016, media outlets covered the scandal surrounding Teresa Aranda, ex-wife of Prisa Group head Juan Luis Cebrian, for allegedly benefiting from offshore tax havens and being a party to corrupt business activities. The Prisa Group then threatened to sue El Confidential, one of the media outlets who reported on the matter to deter any other media outlets from reporting on the scandal.
In 2017, a Catalan website was blocked for promoting its Catalan independence referendum as the High Court of Justice of Catalan found such referendum illegal. Groups created through WhatsApp that promote the same were also blocked. Access to several sites was also blocked by the Spanish government which was later on unblocked in hopes of permanently shutting down these sites.
Overall, Spain has a long way in terms of internet freedom. Considering its long line of government control and dictatorship, it is unclear if it will ever be open to free press and speech. As long as individual private rights, no matter how irrational, are put first before transparency and public interest, Spain’s citizens would never have the rights and protection they need.
Spain is a small state located in Europe and is known for its popular cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, among others. It has an area of 192,588 square miles and is home to only 46,437,447 people. Because of its rich architecture and history, the country has one of the biggest tourism industries in the world.
Each city in Spain has its own distinct character, and each one is so different that you can see a cultural disparity. However, as a country still heavily influenced by Catholicism, well-known events in Spain include the Holy Week.
Carnival is also another popular event which is celebrated in several areas like Tenerife and Cadiz. You can find the most magical and colorful parties in Spain, including the Fallas of Valencia party in Valencia City.
In Spain, Information Technology is constantly developed and improved, but most of its innovations are directed towards giving better public service. Spanish companies have used their digital knowledge to improve the commercial sectors, to provide security in public spaces and mobile communications, air traffic control, national identity cards, and more. Digital data is highly encouraged, and companies are providing solutions to make it more secure and safe to be used online.
Wireless carrier companies in Spain have also made efforts to improve internet speeds currently offering an internet speed of 30 Mbps as regular mobile download speed. Vodafone is the most popular carrier in Spain, followed by Movistar, Orange, and Yoigo.
As of November of 2015, it has been reported that 76.9% of the population access the internet this has grown to only 78.4% in 2017. While most people access the web through their phones but surprisingly, only 67.6% of internet users use it to browse on social media.
Why You Need a VPN in Spain
If you’re traveling to Spain or is from Spain yourself, you may want to consider getting a VPN. Getting a VPN helps you protect your anonymity and also helps keep you private.
Here are some of the reasons why you should get a VPN in Spain:
- Spain does not have 100% internet freedom. In fact, Spain is among the countries affected by the European Union’s surveillance. As such, if you want to access the internet from here, the sites you access will never be secure unless you have a VPN.
- Mass surveillance includes mass blocking, you may be surprised that some sites you log into or access may not be accessible in Spain. Thus, you may want to keep that in mind.
- If you have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or other types of subscriptions and is anticipating to watch a show from Spain, these sites are likewise blocked. A VPN secures that you’ll always be able to watch your shows wherever you are.
- File sharing facilities are also blocked. Torrent downloads, though available in Spain before, is not blocked due to its reforms against piracy and copyrights. To secure that you can still access file sharing websites, getting your own VPN may help. Note that it is never advisable to use VPNs to evade persecution from illegal activities.
- While Spain is known to monitor and surveillance its people, it still serves as a playground for hackers. Malicious software was once done over the internet through a Spanish VPN. Accessing public Wi-Fi in Spain may make you a victim of these activities, including identity theft. In 2017, there are around 50,000 cases of cybercrimes committed in Spain.
- Internet rights are still a big issue in Spain, and there remain thousands of activists that try to fight against oppression and censorship. If you’re a journalist or an activist yourself, raising awareness without a VPN can pose dire consequences.
It’s interesting to note that having a VPN protects you from persecution. It also helps you reach more people and raise awareness of this issue. Therefore, you should make sure to get a Spain VPN as soon as you can.