The President of the European Parliament will chat live on facebook on Thursday with people wishing to have their say on proposed anti-online piracy legislation, known as ACTA.
The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement will be voted on within months by European MPs, whose support the bill needs to become European law.
Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a press release:
“I want the debate on ACTA to be open and transparent. Citizens’ opinions and concerns have to be listened to when taking decisions on issues affecting their daily lives. Decisions taken behind closed doors do not contribute to regaining people’s trust in the EU. The European Parliament takes seriously citizens’ participation in the debate. The almost 2.5 million signatures in the petition we received on ACTA is a very welcome sign of involvement and interest.”
There have been street protests in several European countries in recent months, led by critics of ACTA, who claim Europe’s decision-makers have kept the public in the dark about the potential consequences of ACTA. Some consumer groups claim it will infringe on civil liberties, such as the right to privacy and the freedom of expression.
Meanwhile the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats group within the European parliament said on Wednesday it would not vote for ACTA. The group’s leader Guy Verhofstadt said:
“Although we unambiguously support the protection of intellectual property rights, we also champion fundamental rights and freedoms. We have serious concerns that ACTA does not strike the right balance”. He added “There are too many provisions lacking clarity and certainty as to the way they would be implemented in practice.”
A rejection of ACTA by the European Parliament would kill off the bill in the EU.