European Parliamentarians Officially Declare Opposition to ACTA

As if things couldn’t get any worse for supporters of the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), they have. Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have submitted a written declaration that they oppose ACTA.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

While the European Commission have been attempting to either evade questions on ACTA by going to the extreme of saying ACTA doesn’t even exist or misleadingly suggest that ACTA is nothing more than a treaty targeting commercial counterfeiting/bootleg piracy even though it is common knowledge that ACTA is about the incredibly broad topic of copyright infringement, supporters of ACTA might have a new reason to be worried that the agreement in the publics eye is flying off the rails before it has even come close to being finalized.

La Quadrature Du Net is reporting that four MEPs have signed an official declaration that they oppose ACTA.

“This written declaration rightly expresses concerns about democratic circumvention and the risks that ACTA represents for fundamental freedoms. It is a strong platform for citizens to act against ACTA and help protect the Internet. Every European citizen who loves the Net must contact the MEPs from his country and urge them to sign this written declaration.” says Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

At issue is the biggest problem that has plagued the treaty, the complete lack of transparency. The MEPs that have signed the agreement are Zuzana Roithova (CZ, EPP), Stavros Lambrinidis (GR, S&D), Alexander Alvaro (DE, ALDE) and Françoise Castex (FR, S&D).

Here’s the declaration:

A. Whereas the ongoing negotiations concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
B. Whereas the co-decision role of the European Parliament in commercial matters and its access to negotiation documents guaranteed by the Lisbon Treaty,

1. Considers that the proposed agreement should not indirectly impose harmonisation of EU copyright, patent or trademark law. The principle of subsidiarity should be respected,
2. Declares that the Commission should immediately make all documents related to the ongoing negotiations publicly available.
3. Takes the view that the proposed agreement should not force limitations upon judicial due process nor weaken fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
4. Stresses that the evaluation of economic and innovation risks must take place prior to introducing criminal sanctions where civil measures are already in place.
5. Considers that Internet service providers should not bear liability for the data they transmit or host through their services to an extent that would imply prior surveillance or filtering of such data.
6. Points out that any measure aimed at strengthening powers for cross-border inspection and seizures of goods should not harm global access to legal, affordable and safe medicines.
7. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission, the Council and the parliaments of the Member States.

This latest move seems to be following a political trend around the world. Already, Charlie Angus of the NDP in Canada have not only voiced their concerns publicly about ACTA, but also have made a Facebook page that demands that ACTAs secrecy must end. US Senators have also done their part when they politicians voiced similar concerns as well about the transparency of ACTA.

The issue of transparency in ACTA has become a huge factor at this point on how palatable ACTA will become once it’s made public. At this point, asking people to accept ACTAs secrecy is like asking them if they are fine if the planet blows up next week and there’s no way off of it. Hardly anyone is going to find that acceptable and supporters of ACTA are running out of countries where politicians haven’t voiced some form of concern about the transparency of ACTA. It’s a simple problem where negotiators of ACTA are simply running out of excuses to keep ACTA secret because if there’s any hope in salvaging any part of ACTA, be it good or bad, negotiators have to accept that this is a matter of public interest right now – not next year, not next month, now. Even if you are fully supportive of busting every file-sharer on Earth and ending p2p completely, some of those rare people have to be thinking by now, at the very least, “Why must we hide our strong message that piracy is wrong in ACTA at this stage in the game? Isn’t it bad enough that we look like we have a lot to hide here?”

Either way, it is becoming the best way for politicians to connect with their voters. Say you are opposed to ACTAs secrecy and you’ll get support pretty easily. The secrecy issue is starting to get absurd at this point and may be what will end up sinking ACTA completely.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: