Spain Attempts to Censor .CAT Domain Names

Spanish police raided the offices of the .cat registry Wednesday morning seizing all their computers, according to, apparently in retaliation for some .cat domain names being used to host websites for the Catalan independence referendum scheduled for 1 October.

The raid follows another Tuesday by the Guardia Civil of the offices of Spain's biggest private delivery company, Unipost, in the Catalan city of Terrassa, reports the BBC. “Catalan police officers scuffled with pro-secession protesters trying to block the street outside.”

There were further raids Wednesday with The Independent reporting “Spanish national police have stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia's regional government to put a stop to the region's independence referendum.”

The Spanish government is attempting to stop the referendum from happening. On Saturday “Catalan separatists and supporters of the region's right to hold a referendum on independence from Spain have held a rally backing more than 700 mayors facing the threat of arrest,” according to another BBC report. “The mayors have been called in for questioning by prosecutors for agreeing to facilitate the vote locally.”

“They could be arrested if they do not attend and prosecuted for using public funds if they help stage the ballot. Madrid has promised to block the vote, saying it is unconstitutional.” And last Friday the Spanish government gave the regional government in Catalonia 48 hours to abandon “illegal” referendum plans or lose budgetary powers.

In a statement last Friday prior to the raids but apparently following the court decision, The Fundació puntCAT (puntCAT Foundation) said:
“Internet is one of the greatest expressions of universal freedom and pluralism. Due to the exigences of Spanish courts which demand actions that restrict this foundational mission, we have been forced to take actions we do not share and that we consider not worthy of the space of freedom provided by new technologies. We will inform International organizations we are part of as an important member (ICANN) of any restrictions on the free concurrence of the Network and its services.

“We will continue to support the freedom, participation and processes that favor the development of our national identity and our institutions that represent the entire Catalan population, our language and our culture.”

There are over 100,000 .cat domain names registered. questions how the registry will continue to operate if their offices have been shut down and computer equipment seized.

“The seizure won’t impact live domain names or general day to day operations by registrars, as the registry backend is run by CORE and leverages global DNS infrastructure. However it is deeply worrying that the Spanish government’s actions would spill over onto an entire namespace.”

For more on the raid see the report here.