Friday, June 29, 2012

European trade committee voted to reject ACTA

Members of the European Parliament voted to reject the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by 19 votes to 12. ACTA is a trade agreement, negotiated in secret between Canada, the USA, China, Japan and the EU. If approved, ACTA would allow major corporations and politicians to censor parts of the internet.

Under ACTA, the only forms of communications allowed on the internet would be those government bureaucrats approve.

From its inception, ACTA has been shrouded in secrecy. In the USA, ACTA was signed by president Obama on October 1 2011, despite serious Constitutional concerns. The White House circumvented the necessity to have the treaty confirmed by lawmakers by presenting it an as "executive agreement," although legal scholars have highlighted the dubious nature of this characterization. In the EU, EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht explained on television that the details of what was being suggested by the corporations, that lobbied for ACTA, could not be made public because it would be damaging to the reputations of those corporations.

The supporters of ACTA may have lost this battle, but we must remain vigilant. The idea is not dead, only the specific wording of ACTA. However, as we have seen when in several European countries, the people voted against the Lisbon Treaty, the EU simply changed some of the wording and packaging and later pushed it through anyway. If they manage to do the same thing with ACTA, consumers, small business owners and anyone with an opinion the current government does not like, will wish they had done something to stop ACTA when they still had the chance.

If you have a Twitter account, take a second and use the hashtag #StopACTA to voice your opposition.