Near-Final ACTA Text is a Counterfeit of Democracy

Posted on

Paris, October 6th, 2010 – The ACTA negotiators have just released a near-final version of this anti-counterfeiting agreement. It is still very dangerous. The release of this text should not give the illusion of transparency by hiding the fact that the whole negotiation process was carried on out of public scrutiny. Moreover, ACTA could profoundly alter the Internet ecosystem by turning technical intermediaries into a copyright police of the Net.

After last week’s round of negotiations in Tokyo, the like-minded countries negotiating ACTA have decided to release what is supposed to be a near-final version of the agreement

In spite of all the assurances given by the negotiators, the dogmatic approach to copyright embodied by ACTA remains a major threat on the fundamental freedoms of Internet users. New wording now seeks to extend the scope of the “digital chapter” to criminalize “unlawful uses of means of widespread distribution”See article 2.18.2: Each Party’s enforcement procedures shall apply to infringement of at least trademark and copyright or related rights over digital networks, including the unlawful use of means of widespread distribution for infringing purposes. These procedures shall be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity, including electronic commerce, and, consistent each Party’s law, preserves fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy.
. Also included is a call for a closer cooperation between Internet Service Providers and rights holders, which could lead party countries to implement measures that turn Internet actors into a private copyright policeEach Party shall endeavor to promote cooperative efforts within the business community to effectively address at least trademark and copyright or related rights infringement while preserving legitimate competition and consistent with each Party’s law, preserving fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy..

What is more, ACTA establishes a parallel ad hoc policy-making process distinct from traditional international organizations. The governance mechanisms proposed in the agreement give the ACTA committee a key role in de-facto policy making: it will receive proposals for amendments from any member country and “decide whether to present a proposed amendment to the Parties for acceptance, ratification, or approval”.

Once the final agreement is signed, Parliaments will have a key role in claiming back democracy and asserting the rights and freedoms of their constituents. After the adoption of Written Declaration 12 by the European Parliament or of an anti-ACTA resolution by the Mexican Paliament, elected representatives must step up the pressure and make clear that they will oppose the ratification of this dangerous counterfeit of democracy imposing civil and criminal sanctions.

“The release of this near-final version of ACTA does not satisfy the transparency requirement of democracy, since citizens and their elected representatives are put before a ‘fait accompli’. If this agreement were to be implemented, the rights and freedoms of citizens across the world as well as democratic processes would be severely undermined. Ratification of ACTA must be opposed by all means.”, concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.