European Parliament Official In Charge Of ACTA Quits, And Denounces The ‘Masquerade’ Behind ACTA

This is interesting. Kader Arif, the “rapporteur” for ACTA, has quit that role in disgust over the process behind getting the EU to sign onto ACTA. A rapporteur is a person “appointed by a deliberative body to investigate an issue.” However, it appears his investigation of ACTA didn’t make him very pleased:

I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament’s demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.

As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens’ legitimate demands.”

Everyone knows the ACTA agreement is problematic, whether it is its impact on civil liberties, the way it makes Internet access providers liable, its consequences on generic drugs manufacturing, or how little protection it gives to our geographical indications.

This agreement might have major consequences on citizens’ lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade.

Pretty rare to find such direct honesty in political circles. That’s quite a direct and clear condemnation of the entire process. In terms of process, it will be interesting to see if this has an impact. While the EU did sign on to ACTA today, it still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament (more on that in a little while). Having Arif quit makes a pretty big statement, and hopefully makes it easier for Parliament Members to speak out loudly against ACTA… Still, this is an uphill battle. The supporters of ACTA have been working to get ACTA approved for years. To them, this is basically a done deal.

Source: Tech Dirt

ACTA – Worse Than SOPA And PIPA

By Stephen Lendman

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Internet freedom’s on the line. SOPA and PIPA threatened Net Neutrality and free expression. So does ACTA. More on it below.

For now, the largest online protest in Internet history got Congress to abandon SOPA and PIPA for now but not permanently. Expect resurrection in modified form. Language may change but not intent. ACTA’s worse.

Launched on October 23, 2007, America, the EU, Switzerland and Japan began secretly negotiating a new intellectual property enforcement treaty – the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

Other nations got involved, including Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Singapore, and the UAE. Ostensibly for counterfeit goods protection, it’s about fast-tracking Internet distribution and information technology rules at the expense of Net Neutrality, privacy, and personal freedoms.

It establishes unrestricted supranational global trade rules. In the process, it tramples on national sovereignty and personal freedoms. Moreover, negotiations were secret until WikiLeaks reported in May 2008:

“If adopted, (ACTA) would impose a strong, top-down enforcement regime, with new cooperation requirements upon (ISPs), including perfunctionary disclosure of customer information.”

“The proposal also bans ‘anti-circumvention measures which may affect online anonymity systems and would likely outlaw multi-region CD/DVD players. The proposal also specifies a plan to encourage developing nations to accept the legal regime.” Those opting out face retaliatory measures.

On April 22, 2010, Electronic Frontier Foundation writer Gwen Hinze headlined, “Preliminary Analysis of the Officially Released ACTA Text,” saying:

“The text (leaves no doubt) that ACTA is not just about counterfeiting.” It’s far more. It covers copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property forms, including the Internet.

It’s also about the ability of users to “communicate, collaborate and create” freely. In addition, it imposes obligations (on) Internet intermediaries (and), requir(es) them to police” cyberspace and its users. As a result, it raises serious questions about open affordable access, free expression, personal privacy, and “fair use rights.”

On May 27, 2011, the Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) said the European Commission published a final ACTA text with few changes from its last known version. Since introduced, major media scoundrels reported little about its destructive provisions.

Last October, Washington, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea signed ACTA. US deputy trade representative Mariam Sapiro hailed the occasion, saying:

“As with many of the challenges we face in today’s global economy, no government can single-handedly eliminate the problem of global counterfeiting and piracy. Signing this agreement is therefore an act of shared leadership and determination in the international fight against intellectual property theft.”

Public Knowledge attorney Rashmi Rangnath called the deal the Obama administration’s “attempt to foist US law on other countries.”

It also broke another candidate Obama promise to “(s)upporte the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.”

In fact, doing so lawlessly circumvented Congress. On October 1, 2011, Obama acted by “executive agreement.” He falsely claimed ACTA’s not a treaty requiring Senate approval. Constitutional issues remain unresolved.

By law, executive agreements apply only to sole presidential authority issues. Treaties must be ratified by a two-thirds Senate supermajority. As a result, a circulating petition demands Senate consideration. By February 21, 25,000 are needed. So far, thousands are recorded. Dozens of legal scholars support it.

So far, the administration’s stonewalling. It’s circumventing the law like it always does and breaking a campaign pledge in the process. Post-SOPA/PIPA, Obama diktat authority rammed it through illegally.

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