European Parliament committee recommends rejection of ACTA

Written by on June 21, 2012 in Europe, News - No comments

European Parliament’s international trade committee voted on June 21 to recommend that the European Parliament rejects the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) when it is put up for a vote in early July.

“I welcome the result of today’s vote. I am pleased that the committee has acknowledged the problems I have identified in my report and has followed my recommendation to reject ACTA,” rapporteur David Martin said in a statement after the vote results were announced.

Nineteen MEPs voted against ACTA, and twelve in favour, with no abstentions. Before that vote, the committee also voted to reject a plea from trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, who asked the committee to delay its vote until the European Court of Justice renders its judgment on whether the treaty breached European fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression and information or data protection and the right to property including that of intellectual property.

The international trade committee is the lead committee charged with making the final recommendation, but several other committees were consulted during the process – civil liberties, industry and legal affairs. All three voted on May 31 to recommend that the European Parliament rejects the treaty in its current form.

Just a day earlier, on May 30, Dutch parliament rejected the treaty on grounds that it was detrimental to online freedoms, and also voted to bar the government from signing similar treaties in the future.

After 22 EU member states signed ACTA in Tokyo in late January, rallies in dozens of European cities and towns protested against ACTA, which internet freedom groups say opens the door for tight policing of online content. More than 100 000 across Europe have joined concerted anti-ACTA protests on February 11.

The following week, Bulgaria’s government joined three other Eastern European EU members in saying that it would suspend ratification of the treaty. Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that his party’s MEPs would vote against ratification in European Parliament.

The European Commission has defended ACTA throughout, saying that it would not require changing EU legislation. Critics countered by saying that ACTA’s extremely vague language could be used by signatory parties to justify the implementation of harsher laws.

EU’s data privacy watchdog, the European Data Protection Supervisor, published in April a second opinion on the subject, saying that ACTA’s provisions threaten privacy and data protection if not properly implemented. At the same time, the treaty did not contain sufficient limitations and safeguards, such as effective judicial protection, due process, the principle of the presumption of innocence, and the right to privacy and data protection, the watchdog said.

(Photo: Photo: SebastianDooris/flickr.com)

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Alex Bivol is the news editor of The Sofia Globe.