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May 17, 2012
ACTA Dead In Europe
ACTA is dead in Europe for all practical purposes. That is the sentiment of Neelie Kroes, The European Union Commissioner for telecoms and technology. She has previously served as Commissioner for Competition and is well known to Microsoft and other technology companies that came in conflict with the Competition Directorate. She is quoted in the Guardian (UK) as saying “we are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and ACTA." Europe is officially still working to ratify the agreement, though some member states are not cooperating in the effort. Members of the European Parliament must ratify it along with all member states for the treaty to take effect. As of now, the treaty has been referred to the European Court of Justice for its views on the agreement's constitutionality.
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) had negative comments about the treaty, saying that implementation will have “unacceptable side effects” on individual privacy rights. IP enforcement envisioned by the treaty could lead to large scale monitoring of users’ behavior and electronic communications. These sentiments are contained in a press release and an official opinion from the EDPS. Protecting IP rights is important, but the treaty does not strike a good balance in doing so.
The treaty had been opposed by the vocal (and no so vocal) public because of the impact it would have on ordinary Internet uses and the high level of secrecy in which it was negotiated. They only way the text became public during the negotiations were through a series of leaked drafts. People power works in some cases. I ask again, with the ham-fisted seizure of the Megaupload service, is something like ACTA and SOPA necessary? [MG]