Catalonia’s High Court on Friday ordered Google to delete an application that it said Catalan separatists were using to spread information about a disputed independence vote this Sunday, Reuters reported. The court also ordered Google to block any future applications developed by the gmail address “Onvotar1oct@gmail.com”, according to a written ruling.
The app, which was available on Google Play until just before 7 p.m. on Friday, helps people to find their polling station via their address and shows the closest polling stations on Google Maps via GPS, the name of the town or keywords. It also allows users to share links to polling station locations, according to The Spain Report.
Google told The Spain Report that: "we remove content from our platforms when we receive a court order or when it violates our terms and conditions". The app no longer appears to be available from Spain.
The court order told Google Inc—at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View CA 94043 (USA)—to take down the app located at that URL and also to block or eliminate any future apps submitted by the user with e-mail address "email@example.com" or identifying as "Catalonia Voting Software". The judge said in her ruling that the tweet with the app link is "only a continuation of the actions of the [Catalan government] to block" Constitutional Court and High Court orders "repeatedly".
The High Court in Catalonia issued an order on September 23 allowing police to take down any referendum websites linked to by members of the Catalan government on their social media accounts. Friday's new court order was issued because this is a referendum mobile app, for download, not a link to a referendum website or domain directly.
The "reluctant attitude" of the Catalan government to obey the previous orders about referendum websites is "clear, once again", says the judge. "…they mean to dodge said blockades with computer applications for mobile devices, which, like the web pages, only promote and facilitate the holding of the referendum on October 1."
The Civil Guard notified had notified the judge earlier today that a link had appeared on the Twitter profile of Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan First Minister, at 8:30 p.m. on September 27, "announcing the availability of a mobile app with information about the referendum in Catalonia, along with a link to download it". The judge has ordered the Civil Guard to take the actions needed to enforce the order. Some 140 referendum websites and mirrors have now been taken down on court orders since the beginning of September.
As reported earlier, Madrid, which claims the authority of a constitution that declares the country to be indivisible, remained implacably opposed to Sunday's vote. “I insist that there will be no referendum on Oct. 1,” central government spokesman Mendez de Vigo told a news conference following the weekly cabinet meeting, reiterating that the vote was illegal.
However, as also noted previously, it appears that the local population has no intetion of complying with the crackdown. In a sign that large crowds are again expected on the streets on Sunday, department store chain El Corte Ingles said it would shut three stores in central Barcelona. The central government said airspace above the city would be partly restricted, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, lines of tractors draped in the red-and-yellow striped Catalan flag left provincial towns on Friday, planning to converge on Barcelona in a sign of support for the referendum.