European Parliament group delivers deathblow to ACTA

21 Jun 20121 Share

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The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which sparked a wave of protest in Europe after various governments signed it in Japan without consulting their citizens has been dealt a deathblow by the EU’s International Trade Committee.

Members of the committee voted 19 against and 12 in favour. The committee also voted to ignore European Commission calls to postpone voting until the European Court of Justice decided on the legality of ACTA.

This outcome will act as a final recommendation to the European Parliament when it makes its final decision in the first week of July.

ACTA, which had been viewed as an international version of the controversial SOPA bill, had been signed by 22 EU member states, including Ireland, but it has not yet been ratified.

At the end of May all three committees advising the International Trade Committee rejected ACTA.

Clandestine

The ACTA agreement is designed to fight the trade of counterfeit goods, including pharmaceuticals, but also encourages ISPs to take co-operative measures to fight copyright, which could result in repressive measures, such as a three-strikes rule.

In February thousands of people across Europe took to the streets to protect the controversial trade agreement.

The clandestine nature of how ACTA came about, with little or no public consultation, is considered an affront to civil liberties and in February the EU’s principal rapporteur (investigator) MEP Kader Arif resigned in protest and slammed the whole process as a "charade".

Impact

"By recommending the rejection of ACTA, the INTA committee today has said yes to democracy and fundamental rights", said Raegan MacDonald, senior policy analyst at Access. "This is a crucial step forward in this long fight, and now we’re closer than ever to burying this agreement once and for all."

Only a few months ago, this outcome seemed unthinkable. But today we saw that MEPs listened to the thousands of European citizens who took to the streets and made their voices heard, demanding Parliament rejects ACTA.

"The movement against ACTA has been a defining moment for the future of the open and universal internet," MacDonald said. "We’re very excited about today’s decision, but it’s not over yet. Access will continue to work up until the very last hour until there is no more ACTA left." 

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com