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Censorship Resistance in Cyberspace

Yesterday, Catalonia held a referendum on independence from Spain. There are arguments to be made that Spain has acted in a way incompatible with Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty in their violent reactions to this. Watching videos of the Guardia Civil (organised as a military force charged with police duties) was pretty horrifying, I would imagine being there was many times worse.

There has been plenty of coverage of the referendum but I wanted to talk about four things that maybe haven’t been covered so much, from cyberspace:

  1. Spainish authorities raided the .cat registry, arrested staff and seized equipment. The .cat zone was still served as it uses global DNS infrastructure, but it’s kind of hard to operate a registry when your staff are in jail and your office is shut down.

  2. Telecom providers were asked to monitor and block traffic to political websites through a court order. In the UK, we have a system for blocking websites deemed too radical that I don’t think even needs a court order.

  3. The Catalan government used IPFS to provide information about the referendum in a censorship resistant way.

  4. The Open Observatory of Network Interference worked to monitor new URLs related to the Catalan referendum and you can see measurement results for Spain in the OONI Explorer (note that the list of blocked website by country doesn’t update automatically and is empty at time of writing).


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