Michael Geist: European Parliament Rejects ACTA - The Impossible Becomes Possible
Great news! The European Parliament has voted down ACTA. That's one secretive international treaty down...
This is a big victory in the international pro-Internet community, and it really shows that citizens like us do have the power to fight secretive trade agreements that threaten the open Interntet. We still have lots of work to do— starting with stopping the TPP's Internet trap — but let's take a moment to draw some inspiration from what has just happened with ACTA and use it when explaining the battles ahead (and our potential for huge success) to our friends, family, coworkers, and community.
Article by Michael Geist
On October 23, 2007, the U.S., E.U., Canada, and a handful of other countries announced plans to the negotiate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The behind-the-scenes discussions had apparently been ongoing for several years, leading some countries to believe that a full agreement could be concluded within a year to coincide with the end of the Bush administration. Few paid much attention as the agreement itself was shrouded in secrecy. ACTA details slowly began to emerge, however, including revelations that lobby groups had been granted preferential access, the location of various meetings, and troubling details about the agreement itself.
As the public pressure mounted, the talks dragged along with participating countries increasingly defensive about the secrecy and the substance. ACTA was ultimately concluded in 2010 - years after the initial target - and some of the most troubling provisions were abandoned. Yet the final agreement still raised serious concerns, both for the way the agreement was concluded as well as for the substance.
When ACTA was formally signed by most participants in October 2011 in Tokyo, few would have anticipated that less than a year later, the treaty would face massive public protests and abandonment by leading countries. But with tens of thousands taking to the streets in Europe earlier this year, ACTA became the poster child for secretive, one-sided IP agreements that do not reflect the views and hopes of the broader public. This morning, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly against the agreement, effectively killing ACTA within the EU. The vote was 478 against, 39 in favour, with 165 abstentions. Read more »
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