European Parliament Opposes Restrictive Measures in Both CETA and ITU

According to Internet freedom group European Digital Rights, provisions that would criminalize our Internet use may be dropped from the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA)! While the battle isn’t over yet, this is a huge step forward for the Internet freedom community and the thousands of Canadians who shouted down the same provisions in July of this year, when they were part of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

European Digital Rights has seen leaked documents showing a proposal to delete the criminal sanctions section of CETA; this has been supported by many EU Member States. As a result, it looks like the removal of restrictive, ACTA-like intellectual property provisions will be a central part of Europe’s negotiations with Canada.

Both Canada and the EU are under pressure from Canadian and U.S. business groups to get the deal passed by year-end, and the inclusion of Internet restriction proposals create a risk that CETA might be rejected by EU Member States like ACTA was. Internet law expert Michael Geist notes that the Dutch government (one of the first vocal opponents of ACTA) has already indicated that it would not support CETA if it included ACTA-like Internet restrictions. For Europe, this might be a risk that is not worth taking.

So it looks like pressure to get CETA signed and sealed may be working in our favour, as negotiators are unwilling to risk slowing down the negotiations. The EU is recognizing that they are not in a position to risk the all-out rejection of the treaty that would result from the inclusion of highly controversial ACTA provisions.

In addition, the European Parliament this week also took it’s first steps towards officially opposing the International Telecommunications' Union's (ITU) attempt to change the way the Internet works. The resolution states that no single centralized institution should regulate the Internet, and calls on members states to prevent changes that "would be harmful to the openness of the Internet, net neutrality, access to creative content online".

This is great to hear, and supports the arguments we’ve been making. We haven’t won yet, but these developments are definitely something to cheer for.

Watch this space for updates, and join our campaign to Protect Internet Freedom »

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