New ACTA Leak Outs Who Have Been Blocking Transparency

The transparency issue is the number 1 issue that has plagued the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement on the public front. One question amongst observers is who is blocking transparency still? Apparently, this latest leak answers that question.

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

The leak also points out who have been supporting transparency during the negotiations which is just as noteworthy. One can note that while reading through who have been for and against transparency, it also confirms how divided negotiations really are considering negotiators haven’t really been able to settle a basic procedural aspect of the secret document and perhaps even a shows a sign why negotiations are taking so long. It does echo our previous suspicion that ACTA negotiations wasn’t exactly a bed of roses internally.

Reported by Michael Geist, the leak (German, English translation) shows that the United States, no big surprise, have been one of the players in blocking transparency, but there were other countries as well:

Belgium, Portugal, Denmark and Germany are still not convinced that complete transparency has to be achieved.

Michael Geist’s comment:

While Japan is apparently supportive, both South Korea and Singapore oppose ACTA transparency. Moreover, the U.S. has remained silent on the issue, as it remains unconvinced of the need for full disclosure. In doing so, it would appear that the U.S. is perhaps the biggest problem since a clear position of support might be enough to persuade the remaining outliers.

The document also pointed out who was in full support of transparency:

The United Kingdom, supported by Finland, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Poland Belgium and Portugal, pressed the EC again to have a pro-active stance on transparency and to try to convince the other parties of the necessity of being transparent.

This might explain why there have been so many mixed signals coming out of the European commission since there are members of the European Union trying to block transparency while others are trying to disclose the documents.

The reason given for transparency is apparently to address “unwarranted criticism” of a three strikes law or border searches which, at the very least, confirms our comments that one could easily be pro-copyright and still support transparency in the negotiations.

One things for sure, it actually does show the frustrating position the UK is in currently. If you want to show that there’s no such thing as a three strikes law in ACTA, but you aren’t legally able to prove it to the public, what do you do? There’s a term for that, “screwed”.

Still, one can’t help but think back to one negotiators comment on how people would walk if the treaty was made public. If transparency is such an issue for some in negotiations, why can’t a similar threat be made. Say that if you other negotiators aren’t going to disclose the documents, then you would walk from the table, start your own ACTA and have it completely transparent for a change. Since there are so many more players supporting transparency, that isn’t really all that far fetched of an idea. Clearly negotiations aren’t exactly going the speed of light here and there are plenty of lessons learned like make a new ACTA strictly about counterfeiting and forget about copyright infringement. Then you’d have public support on your side and there’d be less complicated discussions to go over. Wouldn’t the UK and their long list of supporters be better off that way at this point?

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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