Amelia Andersdotter: Why the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is dangerous

The Swedish Pirate Party’s outspoken MEP explains why the European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in July and discusses WCIT, the internet’s next four-letter foe.

Amelia Andersdotter, a Member of European Parliament from the Swedish Pirate Party, has been an outspoken opponent of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) since 2007. Her concerns originally stemmed from the treaty’s closed-door proceedings and the fact that negotiating parties had a history of adopting strict copyright infringement enforcement policies.

The European Parliament rejected ACTA on 4 July 2012 when 478 MEPs voted against the treaty and 165 abstained compared with only 39 MEPs voting in its favour. Andersdotter says global public protests against ACTA significantly shaped the vote (6mins 48secs). But the July defeat does not mean ACTA is history. Andersdotter says the treaty’s reintroduction is quite likely. Before the vote, EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht said his commission would press ahead with ACTA even if it failed to pass Parliament and suggested the treaty might be reintroduced in 2015.

Andersdotter says a lack of transparency, ACTA’s most oft-cited offence, is also plaguing the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), responsible for convening the conference, has been criticised for charging civil society organisations prohibitive fees to access working committee documents. “To run an international organization the way the ITU is run, with that lack of transparency, is very concerning to begin with. You don’t pay for access to democracy.” Andersdotter argues (10mins 18secs). After reflecting on our second principle, which specifically addresses free expression online, Andersdotter concludes, “The act of communication…should not be an act of ‘rebelism’” (14mins 38 secs).

Click here to watch Andersdotter and others at our ACTA debate in May and here to read a blog post on WCIT by online editor Brian Pellot.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford.

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