The European Parliament has said a resounding ‘no’ to the global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
Known as ACTA, the deal aims to reduce intellectual property theft by cracking down on fake consumer goods and medicines and digital file-sharing of pirated software and music.
However ACTA has sparked protests, especially in Eastern Europe, by those who say it would censor free expression and criminalise people who download files for personal use.
By rejecting the deal, MEPs have taken a different stance from the European Commission which negotiated it on behalf of the EU.
What is ACTA?
- ACTA stands for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”
- Objective: to set international standards to fight counterfeiting consumer goods and to defend copyright
- initiated in 2007 by 12 states and the European Union
- strongly criticized for being developed behind closed doors; first draft leaked in 2010
- due to the vague formulations in the draft many critics fear strong regulation and surveillance of the internet and hence an interference in the private sphere, civil liberties and basic democratic principles without judicial control
- ACTA has so far been signed by 34 countries, including 22 EU member states
- Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia have not signed the agreement yet, others announced withdrawal of their signatures
- EU Commission website: Informations on ACTA.