We have some very, very good news for Europeans (which happens to include myself): we have the European Parliament on our sides when it comes to battling ACTA. If you may recall, ACTA is basically an attempt by the US to impose upon the rest of the world draconian measures like three strikes laws and the DMCA. All parties within the European Parliament have together put forth a resolution that would effectively tackle ACTA.
Thanks to the Lisboa Treaty, the European Parliament has gained a number of key authorities, with a consequence of that being that the ACTA would have to go through Parliament first before it would ever go into effect. The resolution reminds the European Commission of that fact.
The resolution demands a whole boatload of things, all of which are extremely beneficial to us as European consumers. First of all: transparency. All negotiations, up until now done in secret, behind closed doors, must be conducted in the open, and any results, whether past, present, or future, must be made accessible to both Parliament and the public. The resolution demands that this very point be brought to the table at the next round of ACTA talks in April, 2010, in New Zealand.
Failure to comply to these demands means Parliament will possibly take the case to court. “The European Parliament stresses that, unless the Parliament is immediately and fully informed at all stages of the negotiations, Parliament reserves its right to take suitable action, including bringing a case before the Court of Justice in order to safeguard its prerogatives,” the resolution reads.
The resolution also goes into great detail, in stern words, about what ACTA may not be about. ACTA calls for the authority to search people’s laptops and other digital devices at the borders to check for copyright infringement; the resolution strictly prohibits any such activity. The resolution further forbids any form of three strikes laws.
“If there is to be an ACTA agreement, the parliament wants it to be about combating goods counterfeiting (i.e.: fake Rolexes and hand bags, fake Viagra on the net, fake cigarettes that are even more harmful that proper ones etc.),” writes Christian EngstrÃ¶m, MEP for Piratpartiet, Sweden, “It should not be about restricting our fundamental civil liberties on the net.”
The resolution will go to vote tomorrow, so there’s still a chance it will be shot down, but seeing as all but one party already support it, things are looking up. It looks like the European Parliament is not as easily corrupted as the European Commission apparently is (seeing it entered into the secret ACTA talks in the first place), and I’m happy such an overwhelming majority helped draft this resolution.
Let’s hope we Europeans get to hold on to our civil liberties on the net – at least until the next backhanded attempt by the content industry to shove US law down our throats.