11 February declared day of action against ACTA

2 Feb 2012

A controversial global treaty – the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – which has the agreement of 22 European nations, including Ireland, has spurred protesters to declare 11 February a day of action, with protests happening in the US and all over Europe.

ACTA is a new treaty that saw 22 countries in Europe sign up last week with full ratification in the European Parliament expected in the next month or two.

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

The treaty 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.’

A new organisation called Access, which has the tagline ‘Mobilising for Global Digital Freedom’, says protests are being organised all over the world to urge the European Parliament to reject ACTA.

So far, protests are taking place in Austria, Belgium, Britain, the UK, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.

There are no protests organised in Ireland yet, which is surprising, considering 35,000 people signed a petition last week as part of the Stop SOPA Ireland protest of the controversial new statutory instrument about to be signed into law.

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