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ACTA: A Global Threat to Freedoms (Open Letter)

Updated on December 24th, 2009

Paris, December 10th 2009 - A worldwide coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations, consumers unions and online service providers associations publish an open letter to the European institutions regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently under negotiation. They call on the European Parliament and the EU negotiators to oppose any provision that would undermine the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens in Europe and across the world.

Recently, European negotiators have submitted their overall position on the proposal put forward by the U.S Trade Representative for the Internet chapter of the ACTA. For the moment, it is still unknown. But the European Union must firmly oppose the dangerous measures secretly being negotiated. They cover not only "three strikes" schemes, but also Internet service providers liability, which would result in Internet filtering. Other dispositions would undermine interoperability and usability of digitial music and films.

The first signatories of the open letter include: Consumers International (world federation of 220 consumer groups in 115 countries), EDRi (27 European civil rights and privacy NGOs), the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ASIC (French trade association for web2.0 companies), and civil liberties organizations from all around Europe (9 Member States so far...). The letter is still open for signature by other organizations.

ACTA: A Global Threat to Freedoms

open letter

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a broad intergovernmental agreement under negotiation ranging from the key social issue of access to medicine[1] to criminal Internet regulation. We fear it could seriously hinder European innovation in the digital single market while undermining fundamental rights and democracy at large.

The negotiation process itself raises important questions of transparency and due democratic process, given that the content of the draft agreement has been kept secret for more than 18 months, although some details about the proposals recently leaked to the public. More worrying still, while the European Parliament has been denied access to the documents, US industry has been granted access to them, albeit only after signing non-disclosure agreements.

A recent analysis by the European Commission of the ACTA Internet chapter[2] proves that the topics under discussion go far beyond the current body of EU law. Most importantly, the Commission's analysis confirms that the current draft of ACTA would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens, most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy. These are very much at risk, since the current draft pushes for the implementation of three-strikes schemes and content filtering policies by seeking to impose civil and criminal liability on technical intermediaries such as internet service providers. The text would also radically erode the exercise of interoperability that is essential for both consumer rights and competitiveness.

Consequently, we urge the Parliament to call on European negotiators to establish transparency in the negotiation process and publish the draft agreement, and not to accept any proposal which would undermine citizens' rights and freedoms. Furthermore, we urge the Parliament to make an unequivocal statement to the Commission and Council that any agreement which does not respect these core principles would force the Parliament to reject the entire text.


[1] See: http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2009-07-15/criminalize-generic-medicines-hurt-poor-countries

[2] See: http://sharemydoc.org/files/philip/ec_analysis_of_acta_internet_chapter.pdf

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The first signatories of this letter are (in alphabetical order):

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