A woman in Spain was ordered to pay an €800 fine after she took a picture of a police car illegally parked in a handicapped parking spot and posted it on Facebook.
The fine, which seems outrageous to anyone familiar with the concept of freedom of speech, is the result of a controversial law passed on July 1 called the “Citizens Security Law,” or, unofficially, a “gagging law.” It prevents the unauthorized use of images of police officers that might “jeopardize their safety,” though many privacy advocates are questioning whether such an innocuous post was really worthy of such a heavy punishment—or any punishment at all.
“The case…is the result of an absurd and arbitrary application of an unnecessary and extremely vague provision of the law,” Lydia Vicente Márquez, executive director of Rights International Spain, told Newsweek. “The behavior of the woman, in a democratic society, is not deserving of an administrative sanction or fine.”
The police said that they had to park in the handicapped spot because they were in a hurry to catch nearby vandals, though a police spokesman also said that the cops levied a fine because they felt their “honor” had been impugned.
While American legislation thankfully protects the speech of its citizens, this is still a scary reminder that what you post on Facebook can come back to haunt you—even at the hands of law enforcement.
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