The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is intended to prevent the flow of counterfeit and pirated goods between nations. The treaty was first signed in Tokyo on October 1, 2011 by the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, and Morocco, before 22 of the 27 EU member states signed in January 2012. The agreement has since come under increased scrutiny, and after being panned by high-level EC politicians, is on the brink of failure. The European Union will make its final decision on ACTA in June, and you can follow the whole story here.
Jul 4, 2012
The European Parliament has today voted to reject the controversial anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA). The vote was staggeringly one-sided, with 478 votes against, 146 abstentions, and just 39 in favor. The 'no' vote essentially ends any chance of ACTA coming into effect in either the EU or its individual member states. Today's vote marks the first time that the European Parliament has exercised its Lisbon Treaty power to reject an international trade agreement.Read Article >
Karel De Gucht, the EU commissioner responsible for the treaty, has been quoted as saying that a negative vote would not stop the commission from pursuing "the current procedure before the Court." Although the European Court of Justice will still rule on whether ACTA is compatible with EU law, the fact that the European Parliament has voted against it essentially means that a new bill must be written. Those seeking to pass ACTA will have to clarify, tighten, and resubmit the bill for ratification.
Jun 21, 2012
The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been rejected by the International Trade Committee. Made up of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the committee voted 19 against and 12 in favor with no abstentions. The ITC vote will now act as a final recommendation to the European Parliament when it makes its final decision in early July. Many have expected ACTA to fail for some time now, and today's events make the parliament's decision almost a certainty.Read Article >
The 'no' vote follows condemnation from other EU committees, the European Data Protection Supervisor, and Europe in general. Most complaints regarding ACTA stem from a perceived invasion of privacy in the proposed agreement. ACTA was conceived as a way to halt the transfer of counterfeit goods — both tangible and digital — between nations. The EC is expected to announce its final decision in the first week of July and we'll bring you the news as soon as it happens. In the meantime, you can follow the saga from start to finish using our Storystream.
Jun 1, 2012
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has met with more disapproval in Europe. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will make a final decision on the agreement based on an International Trade Commission (ITC) recommendation. The ITC's decision will be influenced by four EU committees that focus on legal affairs, civil liberties, industry, and development respectively. Today the official EU website is reporting that the legal affairs, civil liberties, and development committees have all declined to approve the agreement.Read Article >
Today's news is the latest in a string of failures for ACTA. After passing silently behind closed doors, the bill has been slammed by privacy advocates, which lead to the European Court of Justice launching a formal investigation in to the agreement. Recently, Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, said that it was time to accept that ACTA was unlikely to pass in its current state. The ITC will vote on its recommendation through June 20th to the 21st before the European Parliament makes its decision between July 3rd and the 5th.
May 29, 2012Read Article >
Although the European Council approved ACTA, the treaty has sparked widespread protests in some countries, and it must be ratified by all 27 member states in order for the EU to officially be a party to it, something officials have said is unlikely to happen. The Netherlands is hardly unanimously against online controls — a Dutch court recently ordered ISPs to block The Pirate Bay — but it's doubtful the country will change its opposition to ACTA.
May 7, 2012
Neelie Kroes, The European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, said in a speech on Friday that the controversial ACTA bill was unlikely to come into effect. ACTA is a trade agreement that aims to eliminate the international exchange of counterfeit goods and pirated material. It has been signed by 22 of the 27 EU states, along with the US, Canada, Japan, and others, but must be approved by the EC to become European law. The trade agreement is currently being investigated by the European Court of Justice over concerns that its invasions of privacy are against European law. Kroes said that we are "likely to be in a world without SOPA and without ACTA," and we now need to "find solutions to make the Internet a place of freedom, openness, and innovation fit for all citizens."Read Article >
Last month the European Data Protection Supervisor released a 20-page document highlighting ACTA's shortcomings that significantly reduced the possibility of the trade agreement becoming reality in its current state. There have been protests throughout the EU that Kroes recognized in her speech; "This is a strong new political voice. And as a force for openness, I welcome it, even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject." The commissioner went on to note the importance of legislating against cyber-criminals, but said it must not be at the cost of individual freedom. She believes that "yes the Internet should be open; and yes it should be free. But that is not the same as being a lawless wild west."
Apr 24, 2012
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.Read Article >
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.
Feb 22, 2012
The European Commission has announced plans to refer the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to the European Court of Justice in order to assess its legality. The agreement was signed by the European Union and 22 member nations at the end of January, though countries including both Germany and Denmark have yet to sign in wake of public protests. ACTA has been compared to SOPA, with many worried that it will stifle internet freedom in an attempt to stop copyright infringement. In a statement, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said that bringing ACTA to the court will "allow for Europe's top court to independently clarify the legality of this agreement." De Gucht also believes that this move will "cut through the fog of uncertainty" and let the debate focus on the facts of the agreement, as opposed to "the misinformation or rumour that has dominated social media sites and blogs."Read Article >
Image source: Otto de Voogd (Flickr)
Jan 27, 2012
When Poland signed the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement yesterday, lawmakers from the left-wing Palikot's Movement showed their dissatisfaction in an unusual way: by donning the Guy Fawkes masks popularized by the group Anonymous. Besides their association with a group known for protesting censorship and anti-piracy laws, the printed masks — which are ironically counterfeits of a design owned by Time Warner — are also a symbol of the kind of expression critics fear ACTA would suppress.Read Article >
These politicians aren't the only ones in Poland protesting the decision. Poland was among the 22 European countries that signed the treaty yesterday, and dissent over ACTA has been widespread, with thousands of protesters taking to the streets in Polish cities and citizens raising fears that the treaty's broad anti-piracy statutes will lead to sites or information being blocked online. Anonymous itself has also joined the protests, rending Polish government websites unreachable for days with DDOS attacks. Although the Foreign Minister has defended the decision to sign, Poland's largest opposition party has called for a referendum on the treaty, making Poland's continued support of ACTA far from certain.
Jan 26, 2012Read Article >
The EU and 22 of its member nations signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) today. Despite its name, ACTA covers copyright violations and digital piracy as well as knock-off handbags and other counterfeit goods. It's been accused of being undemocratic because negotiations were originally conducted in secret — although a full text of the treaty is available now online. Anonymous and others even compare it to SOPA, claiming that vague language could allow ISPs to be held criminally liable for aiding in mass copyright infringement.