After numerous set-backs, the European Commission rejecting ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and other countries backing away as a result, it seemed like it was a slam dunk that no country would ever even consider signing onto ACTA. It turns out, one country seems willing to sign on to such a heavily rejected agreement – Mexico.
The news is quite surprising for many observers. Last year, the Mexican congress rejected ACTA, making the country one of what would be a very long list of countries not wanting to have anything to do with the agreement. Then, more recently, the European Union overwhelmingly rejected ACTA after five committees, one after the other, rejected ACTA. To go even further, an Australian committee recommended against ratifying ACTA. Really, it would be a surprise that any country would even consider even touching ACTA with a ten foot barge pole given the kind of backlash that would ensue.
Now, we are finding out that Mexico has surprisingly decided to sign ACTA anyway in spite of the international community seemingly running as far away from the agreement as quickly as possible. A press release explained (PDF) the latest move:
ACTA provides an international legal framework of enforcement standards and cooperation that protects jobs, creativity, exports and the well being of the Mexican people and embodies a balanced and reasonable instrument.
ACTA does not contravene the Human Rights acknowledged in our Constitution and in International Treaties to which Mexico is a party.
Additionally, the Mexican State shall abide by the secondary legislation that the Mexican Congress passes on Intellectual Property matters, where the protection and safeguard of fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, privacy, legality, due process, access to information and culture, shall always be preserved.
In this sense, the signing of ACTA is a resolute statement of the Mexican Government to continue discussing, with Congress, the effective protection of Mexican trademarks, inventions and intellectual creations, as well as the implementation of the Agreement, to ascertain that said inalienable rights are never offended or contravened.
Consequently, the application of ACTA will not generate an environment of permanent monitoring and surveillance of the daily activities carried out over the Internet, and will not be an excuse for checking or seizing computer equipment or personal audio and video players.
Of course, one thing to remember here is that signing the agreement doesn’t necessarily mean that such an agreement will be ratified. Ratification, to our knowledge, would be the next step.
The question really is, why, in spite of growing opposition in the world, would Mexico sign onto ACTA anyway? Michael Geist commented that there was speculation that signing onto ACTA was a pre-condition for Mexico getting into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The TPP is another agreement that is much more complex. One proposal by the US that was leaked online suggests that the TPP likely contains not only Internet censorship in its copyright chapter, but also a hugely controversial three strikes provision as well which is basically three accusations of copyright infringement mean you have your Internet subscription suspended for a lengthy period of time.
If the speculation of Mexico being required to sign ACTA to get in on the TPP negotiations is true, then this strikes me as rather strange given that Canada has been faced with huge pressure from foreign interests to create oppressive copyright laws in the past. To our knowledge, bending to the will of foreign interests at the expense of Canadians on the issue of copyright wasn’t necessarily the requirement to get into the TPP negotiations. This discrepancy is a very curious development for me.
Still, I’m not real sure this means that ACTA is getting resurrected. Yes, the Mexican press release sounded as if it was written by American corporate interests, but given everything else that has happened to ACTA, a lot more is likely needed to be done before there are legitimate fears that ACTA is getting resurrected in my opinion.