Microsoft subsidiary GitHub, the world's largest source code repository, has blocked users in Spain from accessing the app of Catalan protest platform Tsunami Democràtic (literally, Democratic Tsunami), at the request of Spain's Civil Guard gendarmerie.
An email from the Civil Guard, published by GitHub, says that Spain is "currently facing a series of riots involving serious public disorder and main infrastructure's sabotage [sic]". It says there is an investigation underway by the National Audience court which describes the platform as "a criminal organization driving people to commit terrorist attacks".
It claims the app is one of the ways Tsunami Democràtic is achieving its "main goal [of] coordinating these riots and terrorist actions by using any possible mean[s]". The Civil Guard add that there is a court warrant attached to "request the withholding of the content and data related to the aforementioned investigation".
GitHub has posted the email in its "government takedowns" section. As they say they publicly post all such notices they receive, it suggests Spain is only the third country, after Russia and China, to have made such a request. GitHub says that although they may not agree with any such notice they receive, although such a notice being posted "does not mean that the content was unlawful or wrong", they may need to "remove content that has been declared unlawful in [a] local jurisdiction" on receipt of a "valid request from a government official".
The Tsunami Democràtic app is a way for independence supporters to be informed of actions based on their location and availability. To gain access, users need to scan a QR code provided by another trusted member. The website TechCrunch, one of the most important news outlets focusing on the tech industry, notes that when they register as attending an action, users have to promise to "behave in a peaceful manner" following a non-violence policy.
They say that whilst the app "could be accused of encouraging disruption, the charge of “terrorism” is clearly overblown". They also note that "there are conflicting reports about what has triggered" the unrest and clashes with police, "including criticism of the police response as overly aggressive vs what has been, in the main, large but peaceful crowds of pro-democracy demonstrators".
In response, Tsunami Democràtic has accused Spain of "control, censorship [and] lies" and of deciding to "trivialize terrorism". They say that it is a "civic movement which is framed in the strictest non-violence" and that the actions against them are a "flagrant violation of basic rights". They have also posted an FAQ as a thread on Twitter in which they say there are still ways to access and download the app, that it still works, and that they "think it is very serious and disturbing that the state is accusing hundreds of thousands of people who are exercising their rights to protest and freedom of expression through strict nonviolence and civil disobedience [of being terrorists]".
[ENG]— Tsunami Democràtic (@tsunami_dem) 30 d’octubre de 2019
FAQS on the censorship on #TsunamiDemocràtic
The Guardia Civil (militarised police) is trying to create an informative chaos to confuse and scare citizens. Have they shut down the app? Does it still work? Can it still be downloaded? Is the accusation of terrorism real?