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European Parliament Voices Objection to ACTA

European Parliament Voices Objection to ACTA

Adopts Written Declaration 12 which criticizes lack of transparency in the ongoing Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations and the fact that it includes limitations upon judicial due process or weaken fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy;

We’ve been covering the ongoing Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations for some time now, and all the while it’s raised eyebrows around the globe over the lack of transparency and leaked details like criminal prosecution for noncommercial file-sharers, and the ability of authorities to order ISPs to disclose their names without court order.

Now the European Parliament is standing up to the powerful copyright holder interests pushing the ACTA, having adopted Written Declaration 12 which criticizes the lack of a transparent process and its inclusion of “potentially objectionable content.”

“Written Declaration 12 is a strong political signal sent by the EP to the Commission that ACTA is not tolerable as a way of bypassing democratic processes,” says Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net. “Legislation related to Internet, freedom of speech and privacy cannot be negotiated in secrecy under the direct influence of entertainment industry lobbies.”

Many are concerned that the ACTA is simply a backdoor option to implementing objectionable legislation that otherwise would never pass by democratic vote, and that even a scaled back version would include governance and compliance requirements that would allow authorities to later extend its scope after am agreement is reached.

“Adoption of Written Declaration 12 gives hope in the ‘consent’ vote that the European Parliament will need to take in order to accept or reject ACTA when it is finalized,” adds Zimmermann. “Then again – as well as in upcoming legislative and non-legislative attacks such as the Gallo report-, citizens will need to act courageously to make sure that their Internet and their fundamental freedoms are properly defended. Full rejection of ACTA is the only option.”

So what does Written Declaration 12 say? It reads:

A. whereas negotiations concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are ongoing,

B. whereas Parliament’s co-decision role in commercial matters and its access to negotiation documents are guaranteed by the Lisbon Treaty,

1. Takes the view that the proposed agreement should not indirectly impose harmonisation of EU copyright, patent or trademark law, and that the principle of subsidiarity should be respected;

2. Declares that the Commission should immediately make all documents related to the ongoing negotiations publicly available;

3. Takes the view that the proposed agreement should not force limitations upon judicial due process or weaken fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy;

4. Stresses that economic and innovation risks must be evaluated prior to introducing criminal sanctions where civil measures are already in place;

5. Takes the view that internet service providers should not bear liability for the data they transmit or host through their services to an extent that would necessitate prior surveillance or filtering of such data;

6. Points out that any measure aimed at strengthening powers of cross-border inspection and seizure of goods should not harm global access to legal, affordable and safe medicines;

7. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission, the Council and the parliaments of the Member States.

By adopting Written Declaration 12 the European Parliament is taking the united position that the ACTA text and process is flawed. Let’s just hope it now takes the opportunity to fully reject the ACTA and realize that any universal copyright regime is likely to be harmful to the rights and freedoms of the countries that sign on to it.

Stay tuned.

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