Most EU states sign away internet rights, ratify ACTA treaty
European Parliament observer resigns in protest
Representatives of 21 of the EU’s member states, including the UK, have signed off on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – the European version of the US SOPA and PIPA rolled into one and cranked up to 11.
Only Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, Slovakia, and the Netherlands have held off on signing the treaty, which will give authorities even more power to enforce copyright than was contained in aforementioned online-piracy legislation currently on hold in the US.
In a signing ceremony in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, head of the EU delegation, said in a statement that ACTA “aims to improve enforcement mechanisms to help its members combat IPR infringement more effectively.”
It seems he’s quite isolated in this opinion, however. Thousands of protestors took to the streets in Poland to protest the signing of the treaty, which was developed behind closed doors by media industry lobbyists and politicians, and hackers have been busy registering their protests online.
In an unprecedented move, the French European Parliament member assigned to monitor the treaty proceedings, Kader Arif, resigned in protest at the signings, and issued a strongly worded rebuke, saying that the EU was trying to have as little public debate on ACTA as possible, and that right-wing groups were trying to ram it into law with no oversight.
“This agreement might have major consequences on citizens' lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade,” he said.
The signing does not mean that ACTA is as yet in effect, however. The European Parliament still has to ratify the treaty, and a vote is due in the summer. At least EU parliamentarians get to debate the issue – the Obama administration claims that no democratic vote is required on the treaty since it an “executive agreement”.
“This is a fight between a dying industry, desperate to hold onto its power, and the internet community,” Raegan MacDonald, senior policy analyst at advocacy group Access told The Reg. “All is not lost. If the European Parliament votes down the ACTA treaty, then the whole thing falls apart and it’s back to the drawing board for those behind this legislation.” ®
I don't remember surrendering control of the the streets to Tescos...
.... to combat shoplifting, so I certainly am not going to surrender control of the internet to combat piracy. Nor do I remember giving customs agents the right to confiscate/destroy any goods that I might carry through the border 'just in case' they have been shoplifted.
It's amazing what laws you can get passed if throw enough hookers at the right people.
And you're happy turning over your privacy and full rights to free speech in the name of 'stopping piracy', are you?
I'm all for dealing with content duplication, and taking appropriate measures in dealing with those who obtain content illegitimately. That said, it should not be done at the cost of compromised privacy, the feeling of being guilty unless proven innocent (because let's face it, you're never again going to be considered innocent *unless* proven guilty, the best you can hope for is guilty *until* proven innocent) with the assumption that everyone is out to steal content until there is evidence to the contrary.
> This bit looks OK:
No, it bloody well doesn't. It is the same old trick all over again (last seen with the so-called European Constitution and its token Human Rights section). The "illegal" activities are so broadly defined as to really mean "anything we might think of after the fact" while the protection section is so vague as to be ignorable in ANY real-life case. That is VERY bad practice as the real meaning of the thing -can't be brought to call it a law- is left to individual case evaluation. The ordinary citizen has _litterally_ no way of knowing whether what he is doing might fall foul of the law (fair use and freedom of expression, among other thing, are not defined in any enforceable way); and the lobbying groups with deep pockets have all latitude to influence the rulings, be it by clever media manipulation or by, erm, more "direct" methods. Laws were initially meant to AVOID abuse of the ordinary defenseless citizen by the Big Strong Guys. This kind of "laws" actually openly FACILITATE this kind of abuse.