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Czechs, Slovaks stall on ACTA

Romania doesn’t know why it didn’t

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The fragile European consensus over the ACTA treaty is fraying at the fringes: the Czech Republic and Slovakia have decided to suspend the ratification process, while Romania’s support for the treaty could stall on a change of government.

Newsagency Ceske Noviny reports that the Czech government has decided further analysis of the ACTA treaty is needed. Meanwhile, AFP is reporting that Slovakia is also having second thoughts.

The Ceske Noviny story states that PM Petr Nicas has issued a statement saying that the government won’t allow “civic freedoms and free access to information” to be threatened, and says the real-life impact of the treaty needs to be understood.

Following a pattern repeated in a number of countries, Internet activists in the Czech Republic have reportedly carried out denial-of-service attacks against Czech government sites, the country’s copyright association, the Chamber of Deputies, and the ruling ODS party.

Slovakia’s economy minister Juraj Miskov has said “I will not support a treaty that could limit human rights and freedoms”, and says public debate will be needed.

In Romania, prime minister Emil Boc came under criticism for adopting the treaty without public debate, and for being unable to explain why the government did so. The Romanian government has since collapsed in the face of protests over fiscal austerity measures, without answering questions from the opposition PSD party regarding the treaty.

ACTA – the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement – ostensibly targets counterfeit trade items like fakes of Nike runners, Chanel perfumes, and the like, but also seeks to impose strict controls on Internet services.

While Europe’s stand on the treaty remains up in the air, it has the support of the governments of Australia and New Zealand – even though the public consultations in these two countries have come under the same criticisms that are leveled at the process in Europe. Which either we’re more sensible, less excitable, intend to ignore it, or we’re completely passive – take your pick.

Other signatories include Canada, Mexico, Morocco, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and the treaty’s sponsors, the USA. ®

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