This weekend, thousands of people marched in front of a Spanish parliament building in Madrid to protest a controversial new law - the so-called 'Citizen Safety Law' - that they fear will endanger civil liberties. But here’s the catch: none of them was actually there. Instead, it was the marchers’ holographic forms that were projected in front the lower house of the national parliament.
This was more than a mere technological stunt: it was a ‘fake’ protest where a flesh-and-blood one would’ve been banned. Indeed, it served to highlight the constraints of the new law, dubbed by some the ‘Gag Law,’ which (when it comes into effect in July) will make it a punishable offence to assemble and protest in front of government buildings (including parliament, universities, hospitals). It'll even be illegal to photograph the police. Fines for organising protests could be up to €600,000, and fines for filming or photographing police could be up to €30,000. Deeply troubling given, for example, the ongoing spate of policemen murdering innocent civilians in the United States! The Spanish measure has received widespread criticism, especially since it breaks international and EU laws.
So, with the restrictions on civilian freedoms the Spanish government seeks to impose, it would seem that holographic images would be granted more civil liberties (freedom of speech, freedom of assembly) than actual human beings.
It's reassuring that people are thinking of creative ways to protest repressive, draconian laws. Yet the cynic in me wonders how long it’ll take before holographic police storm in and brutally crack down on the protesting holograms...
Under the Citizens Safety Law, it is illegal to gather in front of government buildings without permission from authorities; this includes everything from universities to hospitals. Organisers of unauthorised demonstrations could be fined up to €600,000, with further €600 fines for disrespecting police officers, and €30,000 for filming or photographing them