The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has given an opinion in his official capacity on ACTA, an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement which has been criticized for its potential to invade an individual's privacy. ACTA is an international treaty that has been signed by, among others, the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and 22 of the 27 EU member states. It's concerned with stemming the flow of illegal goods, both tangible and digital, between nations. The EDPS, an independent supervisory authority tasked with protecting the data and privacy of EU citizens, first raised his doubts over the legality of the agreement back in February 2010, long before the full proposal was made public. Assistant EDPS Giovanni Buttarelli has now written a 20-page recommendation which will be taken into consideration by the European Court of Justice when it rules on whether or not ACTA can be adopted by EU countries.
ACTA's "measures are highly intrusive to the private sphere of individuals."
While the EDPS acknowledges the need for a bill like ACTA, he concludes that there's a balance that must be struck between the protection of intellectual property and the right to privacy, which the treaty fails to attain in its current state. He says that ACTA would involve "the monitoring of user's behavior and of their electronic communications on the internet." In his opinion, the measures would be "highly intrusive to the private sphere of individuals and, if not implemented properly, may therefore interfere with their rights and freedoms." While the words are encouraging to those that appose the treaty, the EDPS isn't recommending that it be scrapped entirely, but rather reworded, clarified, and refocused on preventing piracy on a commercial scale.
In a press release accompanying the opinion the Assistant EDPS states:
"While more international cooperation is needed for the enforcement of IP rights, the means envisaged must not come at the expense of the fundamental rights of individuals. A right balance between the fight against IP infringements and the rights to privacy and data protection must be respected. It appears that ACTA has not been fully successful in this respect."