ACTA To Be Rejected By Liberals And Democrats

The European Parliament’s Alliance of Liberals and Democrats – ALDE – have confirmed that they will reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Heading the alliance is Guy Verhofstadt and, although a supporter of intellectual property rights, he said ALDE believes that ACTA is still not reaching the standards they’re expecting.

“Although we unambiguously support the protection of intellectual property rights, we also champion fundamental rights and freedoms. We have serious concerns that ACTA does not strike the right balance,” announced Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE’s leader.

He further said that the alliance will continue to support multilateral IP enforcement proposals, but only those with a transparent, publicly discussed mandate. In addition he agreed on the concerns of people who boycotted ACTA in the past few months.

“Civil society has been extremely vocal in recent months in raising their legitimate concerns on the ACTA agreement which we share. There are too many provisions lacking clarity and certainty as to the way they would be implemented in practice,” he noted.

The key problem underlined by anti-ACTA activists is that the treaty was originally designed to deal with counterfeit goods, and not with unauthorized sharing of digital data online – a point of view also shared by ALDE.

“Furthermore, ACTA wrongly bundles together too many different types of IPR enforcement under the same umbrella, treating physical goods and digital services in the same way,” said Verhofstadt.

“We believe they should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, and following a comprehensive and democratically debated mandate and impact assessment.”
Two days ago the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said that the act could have unacceptable side effects on fundamental rights of individuals.

“While more international cooperation is needed for the enforcement of intellectual property rights, the means envisaged must not come at the expense of the fundamental rights of individuals,” said Giovanni Buttarelli – assistant EDPS supervisor – said in a statement.

“A right balance between the fight against intellectual property infringements and the rights to privacy and data protection must be respected. It appears that ACTA has not been fully successful in this respect.”

If ACTA is going to share the faith of SOPA, don’t get your hopes high; this will not be the end of the “war”, as the US Government is already working on yet another anti-piracy legislation that may prove to be worse than SOPA and ACTA together – CISPA (read our article here).