European Commission sounds ACTA’s death knell

20 Dec 2012

The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is dead in the eyes of European legislators who have withdrawn a request for the treaty to be examined by the European Court of Justice. While ACTA dealt with a myriad of issues including counterfeit drugs, it was viewed by many as a precursor to draconian measures against internet piracy or a globalised version of SOPA.

In January of this year Ireland and 22 other countries signed the treaty earlier this year in Japan but it was subsequently overwhelmingly rejected by the European Parliament in July. The Parliament voted 478 to 39 to reject the ACTA treaty.

In February it was decided that the controversial trade agreement be brought before Europe’s highest court.

However, the decision to abandon this process effectively means that in the eyes of Europe’s legislators, ACTA is dead.

The agreement was 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.

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

The shoddy handling of the trade agreement also saw nations like Germany withdraw from ACTA to await the European Parliament vote during the summer.

The draconian measures also brought hundreds of thousands of Europeans to the streets to oppose the controversial agreement that they believed would have ramifications for internet freedom.

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