Thousands of internet users have taken part in protests around Europe against an international anti-piracy agreement. Campaigners believe the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, will curb their freedom to download movies and music for free and encourage Internet surveillance.
They gathered in sub-zero temperatures in towns and cities across the continent.
The pact aims to cut trademark theft and tackle other online offences. However, the accord has sparked concerns over online censorship and increased surveillance by providers.
On their website the organisers of the mass-demonstrations claimed big protests had taken across Europe. The activists say the ACTA initiative is an attack on democratic freedoms.
On protesters in Vienna said: “The bad thing about ACTA is the totally undemocratic approach. It can’t be that a law is passed in such a way, especially if it affects our internet freedoms so significantly. It must be stopped.”
The agreement needs to be ratified by the national EU parliaments before it can come into force, but several have already indicated they will not enact it for the moment. It is expected to be discussed at the European Parliament in June.
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