Jordi Puigneró, Minister of Digital Policy and Public Administration, today presented Emily O'Reilly, European Ombudsman, with a complaint about "digital repression" related to the blocking of web pages prior to and during the October 1st independence referendum in Catalonia.
Puigneró complained that he now has to appeal to the European Ombudsman due to the silence of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission, who is responsible for the Digital Agenda. Puigneró sent him a letter a year ago and has not received an answer, even though Ansip promised several times to do so, Puigneró explained to the press. "Since this letter has not been answered yet, we have decided to take new steps because these events cannot be left unresolved," explained the Catalan minister.
In the complaint made public today and delivered to the Ombudsman's office, the Government of the Generalitat accuses "the government of Spain of digital repression and illegal censorship ahead of the referendum". "The Spanish government blocked and censored not only the referendum's website, not just other pages related to the referendum, but also other websites connected with the independence movement," explains the letter. Puigneró emphasized that these measures are contrary to articles 19 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as several European directives. He regretted that the Vice President of the EU administration "failed to report and make visible to European institutions that the values of a free and open internet have been violated in Spain."
"We are asking the EU to take a stand on very serious events," said Puigneró. "Digital repression is inadmissible in 21st century Europe and, therefore, it cannot be repeated in any EU country," he said. Today Puigneró also met with forty MEPs to whom he provided more details about the websites that were taken down, with the goal of having a parliamentary question posed before the European Commission so that it finally provides an answer, and to "force a double positioning," Puigneró argued.