Earlier this week, the Spanish government raided the Barcelona office of the PuntCat Foundation, the company that administers the .cat domain, and arrested one of its senior executives.
PuntCat means “dot cat” in Catalan, the language spoken in the Catalonian region of Spain as well as places in France, Andorra, and Italy. The office was raided because Catalonia hopes to hold a referendum on October 1 to decide if it should secede from Spain, and in an effort to quash the referendum, the government of Spain ordered puntCat to “block all .cat domain names that may contain any kind of information about the forthcoming independence referendum,” according to a press release from the foundation.
This is an astonishing attempt at censorship by a member of the E.U. but, unfortunately, that aspect is going largely uncovered because the media is idiotically obsessed with cats…
What a mess this is turning into! I am of course referring to the UK-wide internet censorship of a Wikipedia page (the one about the Scorpions album, Virgin Killer – if that last link doesn’t work, you’re among those affected).
The thinking is, according to the Internet Watch Foundation, that the cover of the 1976 album constitues child pornography and therefore we all need to be protected from it. It’s all a little controversial, though, because they’re not suggesting that Amazon US be blocked, for example.
But the worst of it is the amount of news exposure it’s generating is actually drawing traffic to the banned content. I wouldn’t ever have seen the album cover if it weren’t for the ban, for example, after which I realised how trivial it is to see the offending Wikipedia page. And that without the offending content appearing in a Wikinews article about the ban!
It’s hard to justify this kind of policing. In accordance with Wikipedia’s own policies, it is not a creator of content so much as a distributor: it takes content that is already “out there” and, in theory at least, legal, and disseminates it in an approachable form.
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out.
After a bit of a battle between Information Services at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and I, resulting in the semipermanent blocking of the Unversity’s right to see www.penbryn-hall.co.uk, and the temporary blocking of AvAngel.com (Woohoo! I’m officially censored by the University), access to the site from the University’s network is now re-opened. Thanks to everybody who gave me the support I needed to go and tell them where to shove it…