Germany postpones decision to sign controversial ACTA treaty

10 Feb 2012

As thousands of people in 200 European cities prepare to march in protest tomorrow against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Germany has delivered a potentially devastating blow to the pro-treaty faction by delaying its decision to sign the treaty.

Two weeks ago, Ireland, along with 22 other nations, signed their support for ACTA at a special event in Japan. The treaty is expected to be ratified in the European Parliament in the coming months.

It is understood that Germany’s foreign office has withdrawn instructions to sign ACTA. It has postponed its signing to await the outcome of a European Parliament vote on ACTA in June.

The 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.

Last week, Access policy analyst Raegan MacDonald told that she believes ACTA lacks democratic credibility.

ACTA is being considered as being more dangerous than the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was railroaded in the US after widespread online protest.

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

If ACTA is ratified it would require countries to create IP laws that emulate US copyright laws.

So far, more than 359,000 people have signed a petition against ACTA.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years