ACTA negotiators don't care about the Internet

Luzern, June 29th 2010 - La Quadrature du Net, along with access to medication NGOs, met in Luzern with 20 negotiators of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). No answer was given regarding the concern that ACTA would hinder fundamental freedoms online, by turning Internet operators into a private copyright police. More disturbingly, negotiators showed a profound lack of understanding and competence, close to disdain, regarding Internet and the digital environment.


The acta negociators

Questions were asked to the negociators about the chapter of the ACTA agreement regarding "[intellectual property] enforcement in the digital environment", and its consequences for fundamental freedoms and Internet innovation.

Experts, academics, citizens, NGOs1 and trade unions2 agree: ACTA will make Internet service and access providers liable for the transmission or storage, by their users, of copyrighted material, unless they implement policies to proactively prevent such infringement. Therefore, ACTA opens the door for Internet actors to be compelled to restrict users' access, filter the Net or arbitrarily remove content online in the name of copyright. The creation of such a private copyright police would profoundly harm fundamental freedoms - such as freedom of expression, privacy, or the right to a fair trial - and innovation online.

When asked about how they intend to preserve citizens from arbitrary and expeditive sanctions rendered by private actors, through contracts, the negotiators carefully avoided to answer. Instead, they made shallow, generic statements on their attachement to fundamental freedoms.

"The profound disdain of the ACTA negotiators, and their blatant lack of knowledge of Internet and the realities of the digital environment, show how flawed the whole process is. With ACTA, unelected public officials will force private actors into censoring the Internet in the name of copyright. Citizens worldwide must react by holding their government accountable." concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.