ACTA - Making a Difference

Will Tovey's picture

As some of you may be aware, the latest draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been leaked (via Knowledge Ecology International) and, as with the previous leaks, it is somewhat disappointing and distressing.

ACTA has many problems that make it a serious issue for all citizens, not just the Pirate movement. Firstly, and most importantly, it's being negotiated in almost total secrecy; despite the fact that provisions we have seen in leaked drafts would affect the way nearly everybody shares information on the Internet and otherwise, only a small number of non-governmental "stakeholders" have been invited to comment on the proposed measures, and even elected officials such as MPs and MEPs are being kept almost entirely in the dark during the negotiations. Beyond the legislation-laundering manner in which ACTA is being drawn up, the best way to describe the treaty's effect is as the worst parts of the Digital Economy Act, Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other far-reaching anti-piracy legislation, which goes even further down the same draconian road towards destruction of the Internet as we know it.

However, right now we have a small opportunity to do something about it. There is a Written Declaration going through the European Parliament at the moment "on the lack of a transparent process for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and potentially objectionable content". This needs only 9 more signatures by Thursday (9th September). So far only 24 of the 73 UK MEPs have signed up, so with a little bit of effort it should be possible to drive that number up! The declaration itself demands that the negotiations be public, do not get in the way of the attempts to harmonise EU copyright law and do not inhibit access to medicines. Any MEP signing the declaration is supporting democracy and opposing secret politics, without having to make a statement on copyright infringement itself.

Please try to get your MEPs to sign the declaration if they have not already done so. It's really quite easy to do:

  • There is a list of who hasn't signed it here.
  • You can find out who your MEPs are and how to contact them here if they have not already signed.
  • La Quadrature du Net also has a convenient guide to how to ask your MEP to sign it here.

ACTA goes against nearly everything this Party stands for - freedom of communication, reasonable copyright, personal privacy and government transparency, and even the basic principles of democracy. In both the content and how it is being made, it makes the Digital Economy Act look reasonable and sensible. As individuals we have very little chance to influence this secretive, undemocratic process, so this is a rare opportunity to potentially make a difference.

Update (7th September): The target has now been reached! Thanks to everyone who wrote to their MEPs to encourage them to support the Written Declaration, and to La Quadrature du Net in particular for championing the campaign!