ACTA may have been signed by dozens of countries, but it has still to be approved by the European Parliament. There is still time to take a stand.
On January 26, 2012 twenty-two European nations signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in a ceremony hosted by the Japanese foreign ministry. The United States, Canada, Japan, and many other nations had already signed the agreement in October.
However, although ACTA has already been ratified in the United States, the European Parliament still has to approve ACTA for it to go into effect around the world.
According to the campaign site, Just Say No to ACTA, if enough MEPs, Members of the European Parliament, vote NO, then ACTA will be effectively dismantled, even in countries that have already signed it. It urges:
We helped bring down SOPA and PIPA in the US, now let's turn the fight to ACTA.
The fight is already underway in Poland where many websites, including those of the prime minister and parliament, were inaccessible for two days on January 21-22 in attacks claimed by hack-collective Anonymous to raise awareness of ACTA .
Subsequently, internet users took to the streets to protest against and in the Polish parliament politicians covered their faces with masks.
A development that comes as good news for the anti-ACTA campaigners, reported in the La Quadrature du Net WIKI is that Kader Arif, the appointed rapporteur for ACTA in the European Parliament, i.e. the person asked to study the issue and deliver a report on the subject, has quit his role. His resignation statement opens:
”I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament's demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly."
"I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade."
The secrecy surrounding the ACTA process is one major concern. Despite the fact that this treaty has been under negotiation for some years most of us have only just become aware of it.
If you haven't heard much about ACTA, don't be surprised. You see, you really weren't supposed to hear anything about ACTA until well after it was ratified and far too late for the rabble to do anything about it. That's what, in large part, led to Arif's resignation.
Unlike SOPA and PIPA that, having the status of an act or bill had to be debated by elected representatives, ACTA is a treaty, an executive agreement between countries.
According to ReadWriteWeb's Scott M. Fulton, III, some of the most controversial of the original ACTA proposals have already been removed. One such measure would have had governments narrow their provisioning of "safe harbor" for Internet Service Providers only after they implemented certain monitoring tools and/or filters for preventing the distribution of unauthorized material and another would have compelled governments to ban an individuals use of the Internet after three instances of infringement or piracy.
The most controversial measures of concern to Internet users in the final version of the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are
1) that signing governments pledge to allow copyright holders a way to request, under court warrant, personal information about a suspected infringer from that person's ISP
2) that means will be provided for a rights holder to legally pursue someone suspected of circumventing rights management technologies
3) that goods crossing countries' borders may be made subject to search and seizure if they're suspected to contain infringing material, with exceptions provided for things like personal luggage
So, if you want to oppose ACTA what can you do?
Just Say No to ACTA has a petition to sign and is over halfway to its target of half a million signatures. There also a petition on the White House We the People Site and while this petition has already reached its threshold of 25,000 it is still worth adding to the number.
In Europe it is worth contacting your MEP and advice about how to do this is explained by Dutch MEP, Marietje Schaake in a post on Reddit.
It is certainly worth raising awareness of ACTA and the way in which it was negotiated in such a clandestine manner. According to Joe Brockmeier,
"Even if it's too late to stop ACTA, there's even worse coming",
a reference to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement which, like ACTA, is being negotiated in secret with the intention that the final treaty will be revealed at the conclusion of the negotiations!