back to article Warning: Using encrypted email in Spain? Do not pass go, go directly to jail

Seven people have been detained for, among other allegations, using encrypted email, a civil-rights group has said. Spanish cops investigating bomb attacks raided 14 homes and businesses across the country last month and arrested 11 people: seven women and four men, aged 31 to 36, from Spain, Italy, Uruguay, and Austria. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Franko will be proud

    Anyone hearing the massive giggles coming from Valle de los Caídos Basilica around Franco's grave should not be surprised. It is him giggling from beyond the grave.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: AC Re: Franko will be proud

      ".....giggles coming from Valle de los Caídos Basilica around Franco's grave....." Of course, because wanting to lock up politically naive idiots that endanger the public when they try to blow up cash machines and cathedrals just must make you a Fascist dictator, right?

  2. Mephistro

    Fuck yeah!!!

    About forty years of democracy thrown overboard in a few years. And I don't want to think about the way they are using the terrist attacks in France as a vindication for the removal of several (more) of our rights and freedoms.

    The last government made me ashamed of being Spanish, the current one is doing the same thing.

    Fuck 'em all!

  3. silver fox

    Choose the right fight

    Sounds to me like this about a little bit more than just having encrypted emails...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Choose the right fight

      Yes, and I am prepared to believe that these people really are terrorists . However, the reasons for further detaining them should be concrete bad things, like possession of illegal weapons or explosives, or maps of downtown Madrid saying helpful things like "place bomb here!". Not because they use a tool, like encryption, that is overwhelmingly used for perfectly legal and prudent reasons.

      What the judge seems to be doing is akin to him saying "Well, these 7 people all speak to eachother in Navajo, and nobody around here understands what they are saying, so they must be up to no good."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Navajo

        I'm sorry, but I regret to say that I do not personally know a single Navajo who is working on the side of the angels. Not one single individual. And while I would normally hesitate to extrapolate from personal experiences I think in these uniquely perilous times (for when else in recorded history have we faced such dangerous threats?) we cannot waste time collecting further evidence or following antiquated ideas of personal liberty and justice.

        Thanks to your useful description ("nobody understands what they are saying") I'm now ready to make a citizen's arrest of the very next Navajo I meet: probably Ms Kowalski, the blonde barista at my local Starbucks.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: > Navajo


          Eh, if Ms. Kowalski pushes coffee at Starbucks, we can probably nail her for possession of biological weapons and extorting customers.

          1. Mephistro
            Thumb Up

            Re: > Navajo (@Marketing Hack)


          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > nail her

            Harumph! Sir, in my day that would have been deemed fraternizing with the enemy.

            --- Disgusted,

            Tunbridge Wells

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: > nail her


              Sir, I doubt your patriotism and commitment to liberty! Need I remind you that our very survival depends on success in the War on Terror and we must all be be willing to do distasteful things for the greater good! Fortunately for Western Civilization, I am made of sterner stuff than you. Especially if Ms. Kowalski is about 5'8", 35-24-35, in good health and is not the "clingy type".

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: > Navajo


          If it helps, my uncle is a Navajo and although now retired, was definitely on the side of the angels - at least, that's what his honourable discharge and his post-Marine career would suggest.


        3. fruitoftheloon

          Re: > Navajo


          when have 'we' faced such dangerous threats?

          WHAT ARE YOU ON?

          Ever heard of the IRA???

          When 'on form' they were quite an unpleasant bunch (I am being uncharacteristically diplomatic here btw)

          Germany and the Basque country have/had their own [un]fair share of localised nutters too you know...

          WW2 was a bit nasty too, especially if you did not agree with the National Socialist Party or were Jewish/Gay/Disabled/a Gypsy etc.

          Most of my mother-in-laws family were barbequed in certain death camps, this isn't really on quite the same scale is it (thankfully!)?

          Feel free to do a bit of homework, or alternatively be a little more specific about the very threat to 'our' existence that has recently surfaced.

          Kind regards,


          1. Mephistro

            Re: > Navajo

            Sorry, Mr. fruitoftheloon, but in my opinion the OP is a masterfully sarcastic piece. Because it concisely describes several of the processes and justifications used by TPTB to steamroll our rights, and an example of the motivation for the baddies is also covered in the post.. I want someone else's riches, someone else's wives or girlfriends, or someone else's lands or...

            The current political climate reminds me of the preponderant climate before the beginning of the Great War. People (that is, most of us), Governments and TPTB had their heads so deep into their arses that they started a war that killed sixteen fucking million people and indirectly was the main cause for WWII. Due to some terrorist attack that killed X people, the 'lawful, honourable and just' countries- the most advanced countries in the World - engaged in a war that killed ~16,000,000 X people in both sides of the 'issue'. That was the ratio for WWI.

            And episodes like the French terror attacks have a big potential for becoming the seed of the next World War. We can hear the wolves howling in our own backyards. Badly disguised Nazi chums are preparing the next cycles of ethnic cleansing, and the only difference between different bands of said Nazi chums will be the human 'races' they want to make disappear and use their suffering as a source of peerless profit & power.

            1. fruitoftheloon

              @Mephistro: Re: > Navajo


              many thanks for your well argued narrative, have one on me.

              On a related note, I was visiting my American [UK resident] mother-in-law over the crimbo break, and whilst she is a bit Puritan and a lot bonkers, she does have a valid point about her worries re how 'immigrants' are being discussed in the mainstream press and political arenas.

              She is quite concerned about some of the bedfellows UKIP have 'acquired' in the European parliament, I thought she was overdoing the concern, in hindsight I think she and you are quite right.

              When added to the heavy mix of stupidity in pan-European economies at the moment (absurdly high unemployment, mass emigration, ineffectual fiscal policies etc) someone living here who does not have a UK passport (A VERY long story) has a different perspective to a locally born whitey like me...

              I suppose having virtually all of your extended family murdered by the Nazis is likely to make one a little more cautious in these challenging times.



          2. Warm Braw Silver badge

            Be a little more specific about the very threat to 'our' existence that has recently surfaced

            Possible candidate: the growing attempts to divert us from the fact that we're living in the safest moment of our collective history by creating perpetual wars (on drugs, terror, paedophiles...) that will be used to justify the gradual erosion of the remains of our liberty?

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Choose the right fight

        It is an investigating judge after all... They can get someone arrested with very little evidence (e.g. one or two degrees of separation from someone else) then spend ages rummaging round for further evidence while their life is on hold (remanded in custody or on bail). The four people who where released were lucky.

      3. hplasm

        Re: Choose the right fight

        Arrested for discussing pliers now!

  4. Richard 51

    poor excuses

    each time there is an atrocity perpetrated by extremists the government rolls out more demands for reducing basic rights to privacy in the name of "protecting" the citizens. Yet in almost every case the security organisations are found to have known about the suspects and either ignored them or chose not to pursue them despite evidence of nefarious activities with existing tools.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    First they came for encryption...

    But I didn't complain, because I don't work in information technology.

    Next they came for...

  6. Martin-73

    Cameron can go do one

    This kind of thing is exactly what we'd see in the UK if this idiot gets his way.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Cameron can go do one

      Not just one idiot. millipede and Harriet Harmon basically said the same thing today.

      Vote Lib Dem, UK, SNP basically anyone except Labour or Tory.

      1. Mephistro
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cameron can go do one (@ Gordon 10)

        "Vote Lib Dem, UK, SNP basically anyone except Labour or Tory."

        The Spanish version of this sentence would translate to English as "Vote any fucking body who hasn't had any political power in the country", as all parties with some kind of political power, both at local and national levels, have been found with their dirty hands in the cookie jar once too often.

        Yep, sometimes this country sucks. The weather and the food are nice, though.

        "Always look on the bright side of life..."

    2. cbars

      Re: Cameron can go do one

      Add that crap to the crap Theresa May comes out with. If I didn't have so little faith in their ability to think, I'd almost think that these politicians actually had an agenda they were following.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cameron can go do one

      Wouldn't they just jail them for not handing over passwords or keys in UK?

      In that sense the UK is already well past this point

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cameron can go do one

      Cartoon resembling reality or reality resembling cartoon?

      Surely, any resemblance to the current spectre in the Home Office is mere coincidence...

      1. Brian Morrison

        Re: Cameron can go do one


      2. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        WARNING: Re: Cameron can go do one

        Links to ought to be flagged NSFW. Just sayin' !

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    France vs Spain/UK/US

    Not sure what is going on in France as far as spying on their citizens, but the response of their citizens to terrorism there versus the responses in Spain, UK and the US has been encouraging. Despite the reputation as "cheese eating surrender monkeys" their citizens seem to understand the meaning of freedom and its potential price a lot better than the rest of us.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: France vs Spain/UK/US

      Maybe some of the still remember why fought against regimes which wanted "papers bitte"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: France vs Spain/UK/US

        I wonder if the difference between fighting the Nazis and living under a government collaborating with them might have something to do with it. Let the government know how much they value freedom so it won't be taken away. Too many people in the US and UK assume freedom is their birthright and they don't have to worry their government will take it away - which has made it easy for their government to do just that.

        I could sort of understand that attitude in the US, since no war has been fought with a foreign power on US soil in a long time. The UK still has people living who remember the blitz, so I would have thought they'd remember what it is like to fight for freedom. Though I suppose there aren't too many of them left anymore...

        1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

          Re: France vs Spain/UK/US

          Depends on what you mean by "not too many". To have a realistic chance of remembering the blitz bombing of the UK, you'd have to have been born before 1938. Wikipedia has figures gathered in 2012 for 5-year age bins, so let's take everyone over 75 at that date:


          attained Population %

          75–79 2,006,000 3.2

          80–84 1,496,000 2.4

          85–89 918,000 1.5

          90+ 476,000 0.8

          That's 4.9 million people and almost 8% of the population. Of those, a proportion will have passed on between 2012 and 2015 (application of mortality rates left as an exercise for the reader) and some other proportion will not have been resident in the UK in 1940-41, but it's still a lot of people, absolutely.

  8. Haro

    Another reason for Google to leave Spain

    I don't read much into this. It's sort of like a cop stopping you for speeding, and then adding the broken headlight. I mean, good old Gmail is totally encrypted, if you include https transport and the fact that it is offshore. This whole war on encryption is going nowhere. Everybody should aggravate them with a Tor relay.

    1. JimmyPage
      Thumb Up

      Re: Another reason for Google to leave Spain

      Interesting idea ... the access to outside services acting as a driver for political change

    2. Mephistro

      Re: Another reason for Google to leave Spain

      I must disagree, because the Internets is full of articles discussing how the encryption scheme that Google is using can be/is being broken by national security services and other interested parties. It has been discussed in these same forums.

      A Tor relay would probably do zilch regarding the security of your encryption, at least for some of the known attack methods, more so when those attack methods are applied by a national entity, that can bully/order/bribe their way into the "encrypted" data, by controlling several steps in the communication process .

    3. Vic

      Re: Another reason for Google to leave Spain

      It's sort of like a cop stopping you for speeding, and then adding the broken headlight.

      It isn't - it's like a cop stopping you for (allegedly) speeding, then adding in the fact that you have headlights which could be used for nefarious purposes.


  9. LaeMing

    It's almost like some kind of...

    Spanish Inquisition!

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: It's almost like some kind of...

      Well I certainly didn't expect it

      1. LaeMing

        No-one ever does!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    strip back encryption in the UK???

    Not sure theres any reason for Dave to come out and say that... better he took a couple of million out of the minor budget (Educatin/Health/DWP) and bought himself a few AccessData Silent Runner licenses, am sure they'd probably throw in a free training place for a couple of his mates.

    AC as theres someone knocking loudly on my door...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: strip back encryption in the UK???

      They can continue nocking. At 1Gbit - what it can run at (tops).

  11. LaeMing


    I am apparently the 999999 person (sic) to visit this site and am entitled to a chance to win a JB Hi-Fi Gift Card worth $1000!


  12. Crazy Operations Guy

    One more country removed from my list

    I keep a list of countries that won't hassle me about the fact that every piece of data I carry is heavily encrypted, and every communication is done through highly encrypted links back to the office, including my sat phone. I consult for large, multinational financial institutions, so security is paramount, especially against government snooping. My list of countries I'll deal with is getting pretty small, soon it'd probably be down to Switzerland and the Caymans...

    I wonder how they'd deal with the fact that every e-mail I send is PGP-encrypted before being sent over SWIFTNet? (Thanks NSA for convincing me to do that!)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get a grip...

    ...on reality. There is what's known in legal terms as: "probable cause" and authorities should be holding these crims until all of the computers they were using are decrypted. More than likely additional criminal activity will be documented in the e-mails. While some folks have a legitimate reason for encrypting their e-mails, many don't and only do so because they are crims. I have no problem what so ever with holding these documented crims until their trials are concluded.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Get a grip...

      The point being that one should not *need* a 'legitimate reason' - 'because I choose to' is sufficient.

      This is the point being made in the UK - the government wants to either outlaw encryption or backdoor communications (as well as already having an offence of not revealing passwords). The thing they don't seem to realise is that in all likelihood the danger from the multitude of black hats who want my passwords and account details is both more immediate and on the average much more damaging than some demented idiot with a back-pack full of fertiliser.

      If the government would actually give details of terrorist attempts foiled and how much of this was due to sigint *before* the event, they might garner some sympathy - but instead they just say 'seven major attempts foiled this year! Can I have another billion please?'

      I wonder if it's time to start sending emails containing nothing but random numbers?

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Get a grip...

        What has always worried me is if you have a legitimate set of data in a form that is not recognised by security services, what's to stop them assuming (wrongly) that is is encrypted, and demand the non-existent key.

        There is no key so it can't be provided, and in the UK that is enough for someone to be detained.

      2. Lyndon Hills 1

        Re: Get a grip...

        I wonder if it's time to start sending emails containing nothing but random numbers?

        For this specific case - detention on the basis of encrypted email - the answer must be for encrypted email to become the norm, and so no cause of suspicion.

        For this to happen I'd think it needs to baked in to every email client, setting up the key as part of the install process. It would need to be so transparent that non-technical people wouldn't even know it was happening. I'm a bit hazy on details, but if it was public/private keys, then I guess you'd need a global key-server infrastructure, similar to dns?

      3. LaeMing

        Re: Get a grip...

        "We can't read this hard drive partition on our Windows box".

        "It's ext4"

        "That sounds terrorist-ish. Bang him up."


        Also, I have a legitimate reason to encrypt all my stuff: I don't trust the government any further than I could kick them up a chimney.

        1. Vic
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Get a grip...

          I don't trust the government any further than I could kick them up a chimney.

          I've no idea how far *any* of us could kick a government up a chimney. I doubt it's ever been quantified.

          This sounds like something that needs further research...


    2. Brian Morrison

      Re: Get a grip...

      If there is sufficient hard information that allows such actions under the supervision of a judge or magistrate that's fine, but doing it because "I don't like the way his eyes slant in a bit" is not an acceptable method. Nor is "He encrypts his email"

    3. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Get a grip...

      In legal terms, having a probable cause doesn't make people criminals. Only a proper conviction, using a due process, would do that.

      It is actually an important distinction. Presumption of innocence in criminal matters is no less than one of the major pillars of our civilization. And there are already far too many critters gnawing those pillars, blissfully unaware that pillars may crumble at any time. Don't help with that.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Get a grip...

      The Spanish criminal justice system is based on Napoleonic Law which is not at all like Common Law. They're not on trial, they're being investigated by the judge and are held in custody while that investigation is taking place. If you're in any further doubt all you need to do is read the news of groups of people being arrested, investigated, then released a few days later when nothing was found.

      As for RiseUp, it uses much the same encryption as the major free providers, i.e. IMAP or POP3 encrypted with TLS and StartTLS between the source and to destination email server. Do some investigating yourself and look at their website.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to re-introduce

    Spook Fodder in every email....

    1. Mephistro

      Re: Time to re-introduce (...Spook Fodder)

      <Spook Fodder>{Goebbels, politicians, civil servants, security services, weapon traffickers, cleptocracy, banks, narcs, terrists, child molesters, search engines, social networks, tapeworms}</Spook Fodder>

      Trying to kill two birds with a stone here. ;-)

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Time to re-introduce (...Spook Fodder)

        Rockets, Projectiles, Special Projects, Lester Haines

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Naturally, it is much, much better that we have planes crash into buildings, trains blown up and people beheaded so that we can send encrypted emails.

    Stupid twats.

    1. Roj Blake

      If you've got nothing to hide, why are you an anonymous coward?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm a different anonymous coward

        Hiding that I plan on spending a few months in Spain and will access my encrypted email same as last year. I have no hostile intentions towards anyone in Spain except the seagulls and probably won't act even on that.

        1. Ksusha

          Re: I'm a different anonymous coward

          What encrypted email services are you using? Have you heard of ShazzleMail?

    2. fruitoftheloon


      Dear AC,

      So by your logic, if there were no encryption at all, I take it that none of the naughty boys/girls would ever do anything naught ever again??

      Wake up will you please?

      You are one of them [stupids that is]...



      1. Ksusha

        Re: @AC

        Another reason for government to take away our rights for the liberty and freedom of communication! People should switch to ShazzleMail and let the government try to track their emails when they are in charge of their own server! :)

  16. Roj Blake

    Nice Advert

    I'd not heard of until today. Be right back, off to get a new email address.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting bandwagon...

    ...that everyone is jumping on! It's not the fact that the security services need any more power to read your email - remember that anything that the UK sees is also seen by the U.S., it seems more of a question of the tools they use being better at getting the core information they need. I'll back this up with the French having the 2 brothers under survelience for a number of years but had to scale back security - probably economic crisis rather that anything else. If they had more cash then they could have had more boots on the ground Europe as a whole needs to tighten its security, something that cannot be handled on a country level as there's too much red tape.

    If I choose to encrypt my work laptop and am forced to boot it up in an airport, that's fine, anything sensitive will sit in its own hidden container with a 32 character password, including email.

    Any data about you is already held by every company you've signed up to for bank, insurance, utilities, council, health - and the fact that these entities leak data like a rusty bucket anyway and don't have the right funding as IT usually comes in 2nd place in budgets.

    For fun, try requesting all your old banks or any company you've done business with for all the data they hold on you and ask they to delete it and verify its been deleted. Privacy rules are coming in mid to late 2015 from the European ICO and all companies in Europe will have to comply, fines up to €100m or 10% of global turnover. Data protection finally gets some teeth. I'll bet that your profile already has made its way around the globe to less enamoured countries.

  18. Ksusha

    ShazzleMail is the way to go!

    In no means I approve criminals using encrypted emails to cover up their dirty work and harm people, but in regards to the RiseUP that they were using, it doesn't sound that secure. It says that all the information was kept on the server but was encrypted. That means the government will file a law suit against those criminals and can ask for those email record kept on their server and probably will be able to decrypt them. If they would have use ShazzleMail it would never happen! ShazzleMail is a free private email application that turns your smart phone into a mail server, delivering your messages directly to your receiver via an SSL encrypted channel with no server copies. ShazzleMail is installed on your mobile device and its serves as our own server! All the messages are send vie encrypted channel and kept on YOUR OWN server, aka your phone. Meaning at any time a danger occurs you can simply get rid or or destroy your phone! I would say that ShazzleMail is one of the recent and the most advanced tools to fight the spies and snoops, plus its FREE :)

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