Spanish Citizens’ Security Bill: Many restrictions, few freedoms

By EDRi · January 28, 2015

In summer 2014, the EDRi-gram reported on the Spanish bill on the Protection of Citizens’ Security, shedding light on some of its most controversial measures. In December 2014, the Spanish Congress passed the Citizens’ Security bill by 181 votes to 141. Now, the bill will be discussed in the Senate until the end of March 2015.

Not only does the proposed bill introduce several restrictions to the freedoms of assembly and expression in protests, but it also lays down measures that would severely undermine digital rights.

First, if the law is adopted in its current form, it would oblige cybercafés and similar establishments to keep records of their clients’ IDs. Non-compliance with this measure could result in fines ranging from 100 to 30 000 Euros and to additional sanctions such as the suspension of licences or even the closing down of the establishment. Similar measures have already been implemented in China in the past years, resulting in significant loss of business and a severe infringement of the right to privacy and data protection. In other countries like Chile, a similar proposal was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.

Second, the Spanish bill would categorise “the non-authorised use of pictures, personal or professional data” of security force officers as a serious offence. As a complement to this measure, the on-going reform of the Spanish Criminal code would punish those citizens sharing photographs or videos of misbehaviour of security service staff with imprisonment for up to one year.

These are only two examples of the several risks this legislation poses to civil rights. Several amendments improving the text were tabled in the Congress but failed to gain a majority. If the same happens in the Senate, the abovementioned threats to civil rights will become a reality. The rights Spanish citizens are entitled to under EU legislation and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights would be limited.

Citizens, activists, civil society groups, politicians and the European Commission need to take action now to stop this legislation. We call on the Spanish government to uphold and respect the international and European frameworks for fundamental rights and freedoms.

EDRi-gram: Spain: Why you should care about the Citizens’ Security Bill (30.07.2014)

Dossier on the evolution of the Criminal code reform in Spain (in Spanish Only, 27.01.2015)

Latest Intellectual Property law in Spain (in Spanish only, 04.11.2014)

(Contribution by Estelle Massé, EDRi-member Access, and Maryant Fernández Pérez, EDRi)