Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Forcing ACTA on EU citizens

Was it too much to tweet the following to @davidmartinmep – the new ACTA rapporteur in the European Parliament: 100 demonstrations this week & 1.8 million signatures against #ACTA cause for rejection of current IPR agenda?

On the face of it, yes, as @awbMaven pointed out: By themselves they're not cause 4 rejection, but it IS cause 4 IN DEPTH consideration of the issues raised imv.

Good point, but what about the wider questions of the right aims and objectives, common sense (proportionality), legitimacy and acceptance?

The Group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) had just appointed David Martin MEP the new rapporteur for ACTA in the Committee on International Trade (INTA) in the European Parliament. Martin seemed to dismiss the widespread concerns among citizens as myths, and took a narrow, technical view of the treaty, removing ACTA from the context of the EU Commission's copyright and IPR enforcement agenda.

I was not the only one worried by the first signs from the new rapporteur, after the recent spectacular defection by Kader Arif. La Quadrature du Net asked: Will the New ACTA Rapporteur Stand For Citizens' Freedoms?

Wider issues are real concerns

The Anti-Counterfeiting (and much more) Trade Agreement ACTA has wider implications than its deceptive packaging as merely an intergovernmental trade pact and the misleading headline evoking counterfeit goods would lead us to believe.

Read the article about the wider stakes and common sense by professor Michael Kennedy, For Your Digital Freedom and Ours, mentioned in the previous Grahnlaw post (about the EU IPR enforcement agenda).

David Jolly reports from Paris for the New York Times: A New Question of Internet Freedom. The article was written for American readers, so it offers an excellent introduction to others as well, who are curious about the commotion, but do not yet know the issues.

Alexander Furnas provides a more detailed analysis in The Atlantic: Why an International Trade Agreement Could Be as Bad as SOPA. Even if some people make exaggerated assertions about ACTA, the treaty seen in context is dangerous.


After the wave of protest in Central Europe, the BBC speaks about a hundred demonstrations planned for this week all over Europe. Saturday, 11 February 2012, is the main day of action according to the map and the facts provided by

The Avaaz online petition for the European Parliament (and the national parliaments) to reject ACTA has now been signed by 1.84 million citizens, and the number keeps growing every few seconds.

For a treaty which allegedly changes nothing in EU law (but perhaps something in the member states), it looks stupid to purposefully lose the respect of citizens, especially the younger generations.

Aren't the relations of the European Union with civil society bad enough as they are, without a determined effort to poison them further?

I am all for statesmen having to do the right thing, when needed. But leadership and legitimacy are not about persisting in doing the wrong thing, however efficiently.

Paradoxically, the stubborn and callous policies of the EU Commission and its repressive allies have united Europeans more than anything to date. My humble congratulations.

With the arrival of the new EP rapporteur, the need for the petitions and demonstrations has only grown greater.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. For better or for worse, between the global issues and the national level, the European Union shapes our digital future and online freedoms. Is your blog already listed among the more than 900 euroblogs aggregated by multilingual Are you following the debates which matter for your future?