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European Parliament prez slams ACTA 'in current form'

Politicians prevaricate as Europe protests

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The recently elected president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has criticized the current ACTA treaty, saying it provides little protection for the rights of individual users.

"I don't find it good in its current form," Schultz said in an interview with Germany’s ARD television station on Sunday. The current treaty swings too heavily in favor of copyright holders, he said, and an individual’s internet freedoms "is only very inadequately anchored in this agreement."

Schultz’s own party, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, has come out against ACTA, and the German government announced on Friday that it was going to hold off on ratifying ACTA until after the European Parliament has voted on the issue. That vote is scheduled in June, after the European Parliament's trade committee has scrutinized it.

The comments came after a weekend of protest in cities across Europe. An estimated 25,000 people braved sub-zero temperatures – Celsius, that is – in Germany to register their disagreement with ACTA, while another 4,000 took to the streets of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. By contrast, an estimated 200 people demonstrated in the UK.

“The message across the demonstrations was clear," blogged Peter Bradwell from the Open Rights Group, who attended the UK protests. "ACTA is an insult to democracy and a threat to the Internet as a tool to enhance freedom of expression, privacy, and innovation. Its vagaries and imbalances put the interests and power of businesses over those of citizens.” ®

Bootnote

Schultz may well come in for criticism for coming out against ACTA, but the man has dealt with worse. In 2003, disgraced Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi compared him to a concentration camp guard (the irony of an Italian bringing up a World War Two joke seemingly lost on him), and in 2010 British MEP Godfrey Bloom heckled him in the European Parliament by quoting Nazi propaganda.

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