Does ACTA threaten online freedom of expression & privacy?

An academic, an NGO worker, a Member of European Parliament and an activist go head-to-head on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Gabrielle Guillemin, legal officer at Article 19, kicks off our debate on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by providing a summary of the NGO’s three main concerns (12mins 33secs). Firstly, the draft legislation inadequately protects freedom of expression and fundamental rights. Secondly, there is a lack of clarity about the criminal provisions contained in the bill. Thirdly, ACTA puts pressure on internet service providers to disclose customers’ details to rights holders. Ultimately, says Guillemin, ACTA “does not strike the right balance between intellectual property rights and fundamental rights”. Guillemin is followed by Andrew Murray, professor of law at the London School of Economics, who plays devil’s advocate (19mins 50secs). “By sharing we mean copy. By copy we mean take without paying the person who created it. You might call it stealing, you might not,” says Murray, who adds that ACTA should be rejected not because of potential harms to liberty or the future of the internet but “because it’s a fundamentally poorly drafted piece of legislation”.

Next up is Amelia Andersdotter, a Swedish Member of the European Parliament elected on a Pirate Party ticket (30mins 36secs). Andersdotter speaks of the political pressure exerted on the European Parliament by the numerous anti-ACTA protests that broke out in early 2012. However, while many parties have rejected ACTA, she believes others will push for a renegotiation of the legislation. The final speaker is Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net, a French advocacy group that promote digital rights of citizens (45mins). Aigrain argues that while many of ACTA’s provisions already exist in other pieces of legislation, the draft bill will strengthen clauses such as the cooperation between ISPs and rights holders to prevent file sharing. For Aigrain, the real question is: “Do you want Europe to be a place where people have incentives to create because they are copied or where people do not need to create because they are protected against copy?”

Main image: Members of European Parliament at a workshop on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (photo from the European Parliament under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence).

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Comments (1)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. Honestly – I didn’t watch the footage, simply no time for that now. However I’d like to present my point of view as Polish (some say Poland was the first place where society publicly fought against ACTA).
    There are few aspects of the polish reaction on ACTA bill.
    1. For over 150 years Poland was the area of political restrictions which resulted in local tradition of neglecting the authorities (this tradition was specially developed in early 80’s by various anticommunist movements that acted copying the methods of information war developed yet in WW2)
    2. Although the political situation of Poland (both the inner and the international) completely changed in 1989 – the remains of former political system and its oppression still are easy to be found in outlook of many people.
    3. After USSR block fall, the media in Poland intensively grew as free of censorship, but the their main goal changed from stricly political to recreative, and recipients became costumers.
    4. Due to the media function change (especially TV and radio) and few rather poor legislation processes and sudden development in telecommunication technology as well as growing of new generation (which as raised in new reality couldn’t find easy cultural connection with parents) the Internet became the only alternative platform of communication.
    5. Because of growing alienation between the new generations and rest of society, and lack of perspectives for future and appreciation in community on the one hand and freedom of communication, information and accessibility to a cultural content that wasn’t even available in any other way, the Internet became the only place of social activity also as a market (problem of piracy).
    6. When the ACTA came out to public discussion, there were two arguments in local debate that resulted in protest explosion: 1st that ACTA might harm the Internet as we knew it;
    2nd that the government tried to hide the whole legislation process.
    The 3rd argument for the protest was just a gov’s terrible mistake and future political costs of it might very high: the government tried to ignore the protest the same way it was ignoring the problems of the generation over the past years.
    At this very momment it was the first time that things changed.

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