Some worries about the ACTA laws going through the European Union institutions at the moment. Not my opinions or words, just passed on for information.
ACTA - the latest threat to internet freedom, just signed by the EU
Pirate Party UK
Yesterday the European Union, the UK and over 20 other countries signed the
controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). ACTA is an
international treaty, disguised as a trade agreement, whose purpose is to
increase and harmonise copyright and trademark enforcement. Many of the
goals of ACTA are similar to SOPA and PIPA - proposed laws which the US
congress recently abandoned following a huge outcry. ACTA is, if anything,
even more objectionable.
It is objectionable because of the process it has followed -
negotiations, conducted without democratic oversight, a process so underhand
it led to official criticism from the European Parliament  and the
resignation of the Parliament's rapporteur in disgust . It is yet another
example of the power of corporate lobby groups, who buy influence starting
with the laughably corrupt US political body, and then foist extremist laws
on the rest of the world.
It is objectionable in its content, as an assault on civil liberties. It is
likely to require unprecedented levels of surveillance of ordinary Internet
users by ISPs . It insists that copyright infringement become a
criminal offence in a worryingly wide range of situations. It provides
for massively disproportionate penalties, including mandatory
Anyone who has followed settlements in copyright lawsuits over the past 10
years will find this hard to believe, but it allows rights-holders to make
up even more astronomical figures when demanding "compensation" .
The extremist position of ACTA will make the Internet fraught with danger
for ordinary users. For example, if a blogger innocently links to another
website, and that website, without their knowledge, infringes copyright in
some way, they may well face criminal charges and prison time for "aiding
and abetting" copyright infringement. For a link.
The provisions on Digital Rights Management ("DRM") are so extreme as to be
laughable. ACTA continues to demand that attempts to circumvent DRM be
criminal offences, meaning that blind people
could face jail time for
attempting to read e-books using text-to-speech, for example . But new
provisions mean that any tampering with information that identifies "the
work, its author(s), producer(s) or right owners" also becomes an offence,
so merely renaming a file could become illegal.
Enough is enough. The music, film and fashion industries make more money
every year. Even if you assume that copyright must be enforced in all cases,
that Something Must Be Done -- just because ACTA is "something" does not
mean we should do it. The way it was created is unacceptable, its content is
destructive and it is against the public interest. The pirate party and I
will do everything we can to stop it, and we urge others to join the
campaign against ACTA . We do not have
to stand for this.
ACTA is a treaty that will eventually introduce a law with important effects
on the internet and how we use it.
ACTA has been formulated by technocrats behind closed doors. Attempts to
gain access to the process and the documentation accompanying it have been
resisted and frequently rejected. Parliaments are being asked to approve it
without proper scrutiny or understanding of its implications.
Here's how the Slovenian ambassadress to Japan managed to sign the treaty on
behalf of her country:
"On Thursday, 26th January, 2012, I signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade
Agreement (ACTA) on behalf of the Republic of Slovenia, following the
authorisation of the Slovenian government. A somewhat longer
clarification of the signature can be found on the Media section of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, which explains the role of the Ministry
and my role as the Slovenian Ambassador to Japan. This explanation states
that I signed the agreement because I was instructed to do so by the
government, and because it is a part of my job.
And yet, why did I sign ACTA. Every day there is a barrage of questions in
my inbox and on Facebook from mostly kind and somewhat baffled people, who
cannot understand how it occurred to me to sign an agreement so damaging to
the state and citizens. With this reply, which is of a purely personal
nature and expresses only my personal views, I wish to respond to all
people, all my friends and acquaintances who have remained quiet, all
Anonymous, and not least also to myself and to my children.
I signed ACTA out of civic carelessness, because I did not pay enough
attention. Quite simply, I did not clearly connect the agreement I had been
instructed to sign with the agreement that, according to my own civic
conviction, limits and withholds the freedom of engagement on the largest
and most significant network in human history, and thus limits particularly
the future of our children. I allowed myself a period of civic complacency,
for a short time I unplugged myself from media reports from Slovenia, I took
a break from Avaaz and its inflation of petitions, quite simply I allowed
myself a rest. In my defence, I want to add that I
very much needed this
rest and that I am still having trouble gaining enough energy for the
upcoming dragon year. At the same time, I am tackling a workload that
increased, not lessened, with the advent of the current year. All in line
with a motto that has become familiar to us all, likely not only diplomats:
less for more. Less money and fewer people for more work. And then you
overlook the significance of what you are signing. And you wake up the
following morning with the weight of the unbearable lightness of some
First I apologised to my children. Then I tried to reply to those
acquaintances and strangers who expressed their surprise and horror. Because
there are more and more of them, I am responding to them publicly. I want to
because I carried out my official duty, but not my civic duty. I
don't know how many options I had with regard to not signing, but I could
have tried. I did not. I missed an opportunity to fight for the right of
conscientious objection on the part of us bureaucrats."