call +44 20 7096 1079

Blog


July 02, 2012 | James Booth

ACTA: We’re almost there!

Update 2012-07-04: The European Parliament voted to reject ACTA (478-to-39).

This Wednesday (4th July), the European Parliament will hold a plenary vote as to whether to give consent to the provisions within ACTA. So far, your efforts have helped to ensure that all five of the Committees (INTA, LIBE, JURI, ITRE and DEVE), whose responsibility it was to scrutinise ACTA and present their findings, have consecutively recommended its rejection. Their voices will be influential as to the way in which the European Parliament will vote on Wednesday – but so will yours!

What’s next?

The vote on Wednesday is the most important. The decision of the European Parliament will determine whether ACTA becomes binding upon the 27 EU Members States. The European Parliament can vote to oppose, approve, or refer the matter to the European Court of Justice, but it cannot alter the content of the treaty.

What are we up against?

Shortly after the INTA vote, Greens MEP Amelia Andersdotter accused EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht of placing “undue pressure” on the INTA Committee by “asking [them] to vote in a certain way”. A day prior, de Gucht told the Committee that, regardless of their recommendation, the Commission would “nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do”. Should the ECJ “question the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties”, he said, “we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed”.

It would seem that, despite consistent, significant, and legitimate democratic opposition to the treaty, Karel de Gucht is determined to press ahead with ACTA in any way he can. “Clarifications”, promised to be made should the ECJ decide against ACTA, are simply not possible: the treaty has now been signed, and so its contents cannot be amended unless it is first ratified.

What is wrong with ACTA?

We believe that ACTA is such an imbalanced treaty that it disproportionately and unnecessarily puts innovation and freedom of expression at risk. By attempting to deal with two hugely different issues – the counterfeiting of physical goods and digital copyright infringement – the treaty lacks the kind of surgical precision necessary to ensure that fundamental rights are not sacrificed in pursuit of its goals.

Furthermore, ACTA promotes and incentivises the private 'policing' of online content through, for example, its broad thresholds for its criminal measures. It exacerbates such problems by failing to provide adequate and robust safeguards for fundamental freedoms. We set out some key points in our briefing paper.

From the moment it was sprung upon Europe, following a drafting process held in secret, the passage of ACTA has been lubricated by a total disregard for democratic principles. The European Commission has effectively sought to move decisions about ACTA further away from the people and their elected representatives.

There has been a positive consequence of all this: we have seen a renewal of interest in the workings of European democratic institutions, as large numbers of people engage with difficult debates and complex institutional processes in an attempt to understand and influence the passage of ACTA through Europe. People like you have helped to make sure that the democratic process is respected and obeyed.

What do I need to do?

The decisions of the five Committees were, quite rightly, heavily influenced by the many people across Europe who contacted their MEPs to explain the problems with ACTA. The vote in the European Parliament will be no different.

For what is hopefully the last time, we’re asking you to get in touch with your MEP and explain to them how ACTA is flawed, how you want them to vote, and why.

Who is my MEP?

We’ve listed the names and contact details for each of the 73 MEPs representing constituents within the United Kingdom. Find yours below, and give them a call!

Your MEPs

East Midlands

  • MEP: Bill Newton Dunn
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75712
    • E-mail: bill.newtondunn@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer to party
  • MEP: Derek Clark
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75552
    • E-mail: derekroland.clark@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Emma McClarkin
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75684
    • E-mail: emma.mcclarkin@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Glenis Willmott
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75459
    • E-mail: glenis.willmott@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Roger Helmer
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75764
    • E-mail: roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against

East of England

  • MEP: Andrew Duff
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75998
    • E-mail: andrew.duff@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: David Campbell Bannerman
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75733
    • E-mail: david.campbellbannerman@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: Geoffrey Van Orden
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75332
    • E-mail: geoffrey.vanorden@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known / defer to party
  • MEP: Richard Howitt
    • Party: Labour
    • ContactTel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75477
    • E-mail: richard.howitt@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer to party
  • MEP: Stuart Agnew
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75404
    • E-mail: johnstuart.agnew@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Vicky Ford
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75672
    • E-mail: vicky.ford@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Robert Sturdy
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): 33 3 88 1 75294
    • E-mail: robert.sturdy@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Unknown

London

  • MEP: Charles Tannock
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75870
    • E-mail: charles.tannock@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Claude Moraes
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75553
    • E-mail: claude.moraes@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Gerard Batten
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75920
    • E-mail: gerard.batten@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Dr Syed Kamall MEP
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 88 1 75792
    • E-mail: syed.kamall@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): In favour, decision maker for Conservative group
  • MEP: Jean Lambert
    • Party: Greens (E&W)
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75507
    • E-mail: jean.lambert@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: Marina Yannakoudakis
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75692
    • E-mail: marina.yannakoudakis@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Mary Honeyball
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75209
    • E-mail: mary.honeyball@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Baroness Sarah Ludford
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75104
    • E-mail: sarah.ludford@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer

North East England

  • MEP: Fiona Hall
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75561
    • E-mail: fiona.hall@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Martin Callanan
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75701
    • E-mail: martin.callanan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Stephen Hughes
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75408
    • E-mail: stephen.hughes@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

North West England

  • MEP: Arlene McCarthy
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75501
    • E-mail: arlene.mccarthy@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Brian Simpson
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75510
    • E-mail: brian.simpson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Chris Davies
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75353
    • E-mail: chris@chrisdaviesmep.org.uk
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Jacqueline Foster
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75674
    • E-mail: jacqueline.foster@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Nick Griffin
    • Party: BNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75772
    • E-mail: nick.griffin@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Paul Nuttall
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75740
    • E-mail: paul.nuttall@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Sajjad Karim
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75640
    • E-mail: sajjad.karim@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75373
    • E-mail: robert.atkins@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Northern Ireland

  • MEP: Diane Dodds
    • Party: DUP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75770
    • E-mail: diane.dodds@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Jim Nicholson
    • Party: UCUNF
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75933
    • E-mail: james.nicholson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Martina Anderson
    • Party: SF
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75222
    • E-mail: martina.anderson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Scotland

  • MEP: Alyn Smith
    • Party: SNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75187
    • E-mail: alyn.smith@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Likely against
  • MEP: Catherine Stihler
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75462
    • E-mail: catherine.stihler@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: David Martin
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75539
    • E-mail: david.martin@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Against
  • MEP: George Lyon
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75628
    • E-mail: george.lyon@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Ian Hudghton
    • Party: SNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75499
    • E-mail: ian.hudghton@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Struan Stevenson
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75499
    • E-mail: struan.stevenson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

South East England

  • MEP: Catherine Bearder
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 3 88 1 75710
    • E-mail: catherine.bearder@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Daniel Hannan
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75137
    • E-mail: daniel.hannan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Unsure
  • MEP: James Elles
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75951
    • E-mail: james.elles@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Keith Taylor
    • Party: Greens (E&W)
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75153
    • E-mail: keith.taylor@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: Marta Andreasen
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75726
    • E-mail: marta.andreasen@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Nigel Farage
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75855
    • E-mail: nigel.farage@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Nirj Deva
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 77245
    • E-mail: nirj.deva@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Peter Skinner
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75458
    • E-mail: peter.skinner@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Will decide with rest of party
  • MEP: Richard Ashworth
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75309
    • E-mail: richardjames.ashworth@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Will decide with rest of party

South West England

  • MEP: Ashley Fox
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75677
    • E-mail: ashley.fox@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Giles Chichester
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75296
    • E-mail: giles.chichester@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Sir Graham Watson
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75626
    • E-mail: graham.watson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Likely against
  • MEP: Julie Girling
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75678
    • E-mail: julie.girling@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Trevor Colman
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75763
    • E-mail: trevor.colman@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: William, Earl of Dartmouth
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75735
    • E-mail: william.dartmouth@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Wales

  • MEP: Derek Vaughan
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75419
    • E-mail: derek.vaughan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Jill Evans
    • Party: PC
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75103
    • E-mail: Jill.evans@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Eluned Morgan
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 3 88 175 457
    • E-mail: eluned.morgan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: John Bufton
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75730
    • E-mail: john.bufton@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

West Midlands

  • MEP: Anthea McIntyre
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75106
    • E-mail: anthea.mcintyre@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Wait for ECJ decision
  • MEP: Malcolm Harbour
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75132
    • E-mail: malcolm.harbour@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Michael Cashman
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75759
    • E-mail: michael.cashman@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): In Favour
  • MEP: Mike Nattrass
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75133
    • E-mail: michaelhenry.nattrass@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Nikki Sinclaire
    • Party: Independent
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75756
    • E-mail: nikki.sinclaire@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Phil Bennion
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75521
    • E-mail: phil.bennion@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Philip Bradbourn
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75407
    • E-mail: philip.bradbourn@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • MEP: Andrew Brons
    • Party: BNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75773
    • E-mail: andrew.brons@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Edward McMillan-Scott
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75959
    • E-mail: edward.mcmillan-scott@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Godfrey Bloom MEP
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 3 88 175 469
    • E-mail: godfrey.bloom@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Linda McAvan
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75438
    • E-mail: linda.mcavan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Rebecca Taylor
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75201
    • E-mail: rebecca.taylor@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Timothy Kirkhope
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75321
    • E-mail: timothy.kirkhope@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer

[Read more] (6 comments)


June 21, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Another key committee votes against ACTA!

This morning the MEPs in the INTA committee voted 19-12 in favour of David Martin MEP's opinion recommending ACTA be rejected. 

Congratulations and a huge thank you to all who contacted their MEPs about this. You made a real difference! It's a big win. 

As with previous committees, there was once again some drama involved (in the unlikely setting of a European Parliament committee room). Before the vote on MEP Martin's opinion, amendments 1 and 2, which said the committee should recommend ACTA is supported, were withdrawn. MEPs then voted 19-12 against Syed Kamall MEP's amendment, which would have seen the 'plenary' European Parliament vote delayed.

Initially the vote result was 19-13. That struck everyone as slightly odd, because it was one more vote than the number of MEPs elgiible to vote. That prolongued the tension. But the repeat vote gave us 19-12 against MEP Kamall's amendment. (There's more information about the amendments and what was happening this morning on our previous blog).

If you want to relive the committee session (who needs Euro 2012 highlights when you have INTA committee voting sessions on tap?) you can do so at the INTA committee's site.  

Our attention now turns to the 'plenary' vote, where all the MEPs will vote, which will take place on 4th July. INTA is the lead committee, and their opinion will be important when MEPs come to make their decision. 

There is still much to do to convince MEPs in the plenary to vote against the treaty.

There have now been 5 committees that have said that the European Parliament should reject ACTA (more information on the previous 4). But what we have behind us is not just 5 useful opinions from committees. We have 5 examples of democracy in action, giving us proof that expressing your opinions to your elected representatives can have a real and demonstrable effect. 5 reasons to keep on the same path as we turn our attention to the plenary vote on 4th July. 

[Read more]


June 19, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Help us win another crucial ACTA vote: call your MEP!

UPDATE: Thursday 21st June. MEPs in the INTA committee voted 19-12 in favour of David Martin MEP's opinion that ACTA be rejected! This also means you can stop emailing the MEPs in the trade committee about this vote...and get ready to email your MEP about the plenary vote on 4th July! More information on our new blog post

 

There's *another* crucial vote about ACTA this week in the European Parliament. This time, the lead committee, the international trade committee (INTA) will have to vote on its recommendation on Thursday (21 June) at 10am. You can help by calling your MEP before the vote!

Once again this is a really big vote. Once again it will really help if you contacted your MEP. Once again, it really will make a difference. The INTA committee is basically in charge of the 'dossier' - meaning they're leading on examining ACTA and recommending to the whole European Parliament whether it should give its consetn to or reject ACTA. They are supposed to take into account the other committee's opinions - which as you may remember, all voted to recommend ACTA is rejected

Those decisions were influenced hugely by the many people across Europe who got in touch with their MEPs to tell them why they think the European Parliament should reject the treaty. It's now to time to get back behind the wheel and get in touch with the members of the INTA committee to make sure they understand the problems, and why you care about it. 

There are seven UK MEPs in the INTA Committee. They're listed below, with contact details.

What's happening in this committee?

David Martin MEP is the lead member of the committee. His draft opinion recommends that ACTA is rejected. That's great! But some pro-ACTA amendments have been tabled - two calling for the adoption of ACTA, and one recommending that the final European Parliament vote be delayed until the decision of the European Court of Justice (the European Commission decided to refer ACTA to the ECJ earlier this year). That's not so great! They will vote on this on Thursday morning (21st) at 10am.

We would like MEPs in the committee to vote in favour of David Martin's opinion - that is to say, to recommend ACTA is rejected. And we believe that the plenary vote should happen as scheduled (this is the vote by the whole of the European Parliament on the ultimate decision, which is due to happen in early July). That means that we think the amendment recommending a delay to the plenary vote should be rejected. This amendment was proposed by MEP Syed Kamall, who represents London,

For all of the MEPs, we need to make sure they understand the reasons that we think ACTA is so flawed that it must be rejected. We believe that ACTA is such an imbalanced treaty that it unnecessarily puts innovation and freedom of expression at risk.

It tries to deal with hugely different issues (counterfeting of physical goods and digital infringements) under one treaty. And it promotes and incentivises the private 'policing' of online content, through for example its broad thresholds for its criminal measures. It exacerbates such problems by failing to provide adequate and robust safeguards for fundamental freedoms. We set out some key points in our briefing paper

Why shouldn't the vote be delayed? 

Syed Kamall MEP has proposed an amendment recommending a delay to the vote, arguing that the Parliament should wait for the decision of the European Court of Justice. It seems to us like this is merely an effort to undermine the momentum behind the effort to reject ACTA, and to take that polticial decision out of the hands of elected representatives. A decision from the ECJ could take years. 

We do not believe, for a number of reasons, that the Commission or the European Court of Justice can provide meaningful guarantees about the implementation of ACTA, and that a delay will simply deny citizens and their representatives the chance to make a meaningful political decision about this treaty.

For example, assurances given by the Commission about its own implementation of ACTA wouldn't be legally binding and would therefore not resolve the problems of the lack of clarity in the Agreement. For more on this, see EDRi's outline of the key remaining arguments.

Please tell your MEP if you disagree with this amendment - especially if you are in London and represented by Syed Kamall himself.

This is a test of how democratic and independent the European Parliament can be

Throughout the ACTA process the European Commission has consistently shown a disregard for democratic principles. They have effectively sought to move decisions about ACTA further away from people and their elected representatives. We have seen large numbers of people engaging with difficult debates and complex institutional processes through the passage of ACTA.

There has been a renewed interest in the workings of European democratic institutions, as the European Parliament has considered the treaty and responded to citizens' concerns.

A delay in the vote now will both legitimise this approach and severely undermine the growing democratic maturity of the European Parliament, especially following the recent votes in other committees (all four votes recommended the European Parliament reject ACTA). EDRi have also noted that this could be a watershed moment for the Parliament.

There's a slightly odd quirk to this as well. In tabling an amendment proposing that the committee votes to delay the crucial - and timely - plenary vote on ACTA, Syed Kamall is effectively supporting the European Commissions' efforts to take away this opportunity for elected reperesentatives to make their political decision about the treaty.  So if you are a constituent of Syed Kamall, you should certainly mention if you agree that the plenary vote should happen now, rather than being delayed until the opinion from the ECJ.

For more on why we think ACTA is so flawed, see our short briefing paper.  EDRI also have a run down of some of the key arguments, and have produced a sample script if you want some advice about what to say.

 

OK, OK, I get it. What do I need to do? 

Please call your MEPs! Explain why you care, and set out what you think they should do on Thursday morning. It will be a huge boost to the effort to defeat ACTA. Here's a list of which MEPs from which constituencies are involved. We have included notes relevant just to Syed Kamall and David Martin MEPs. Remeber, be polite - they're considering ACTA, not responsible for it!!

Get calling! And let us know how you get on.

London

  • MEP: Syed Kamall
  • Note: Tell Syed Kamall if you believe the plenary vote should not be delayed. The Commission nor the European Court of Justice cannot provide meaningful guarantees about the implementation of ACTA, and a delay will simply deny citizens and their representatives the chance they have now to make a meaningful decision about this treaty. You could ask him to withdraw his amendment if you agree with us. 
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45792
    • E-mail: syed.kamall@europarl.europa.eu

Scotland

  • MEP: David Martin
  • Note: David Martin MEP is the rapporteur for ACTA and has recommended the Parliament reject ACTA in his draft opinion. You could tell David Martin MEP that you welcome his draft opinion and express your support for his position, emphasising you hope that the committee votes to support his position.
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45539
    • E-mail: david.martin@europarl.europa.eu

East Midlands

  • MEP: Emma McClarkin
    • Contact Tel.: +322 28 45684
    • E-mail: emma.mcclarkin@europarl.europa.eu

South East England

  • MEP: Catherine Bearder
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45632
    • E-mail: catherine.bearder@europarl.europa.eu

East of England

  • MEP: David Campbell Bannerman
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45733
    • E-mail: david.campbellbannerman@europarl.europa.eu
  • MEP: Robert Sturdy
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45294 
    • E-mail: robert.sturdy@europarl.europa.eu

South West of England

  • MEP: William (the Earl of ) Dartmouth
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45735
    • E-mail: william.dartmouth@europarl.europa.eu

 .

[Read more] (5 comments)


June 18, 2012 | Jim Killock

Board election result

Owen Blacker, John Elliott, and Milena Popova have been duly elected to the Open Rights Group Board.

Thank you everyone for participating and helping with the election, but especially Rob Myers and David Gerard for conducting the count and Lee Maguire for preparing OpenSTV to process the data; Terence Eden for helping on the elections committee and Francis Davey for his help and advice.

The result of the election is that

Owen Blacker
John Elliott
Milena Popova

have been duly elected to the Open Rights Group Board. They will be formally appointed shortly.

The data from the election is available, if you wish to check. The process was that:

  1. The ballots were numbered 2-266  
  2. They were entered into two spreadsheets with each ballot being on the numbered row
  3. Five ballots had to be interpreted or problems noted (see below)
  4. The spreadshets were exported as CSV files and compared via diff
  5. One data entry difference was detected and corrected
  6. A python script was used to transform the CSV file into a BLT ("ballot") file for OpenSTV
  7. The data was processed by OpenSTV using a modified version of the MeekSTV algorithm that protects the RON candidate
  8. The data was processed by OpenSTV using the standard version of the MeekSTV algorithm as a sanity check; the dubious double votes were also removed and run for a sanity check9 This data will be provided to candidates with a provisional result
  9. Candidates had until the end of Sunday to check for errors or to ask to examine the ballot papers

The code used is available at Debian and Hexkey

The lines run were:

python ./rankfile.py -n 3 org-board-2012.csv > org-board-2012.blt
openstv-run-election -r TextReport MeekSTV org-board-2012.blt >org-board-2012-ifstv.txt
openstv-run-election -r TextReport MeekSTVRon org-board-2012.blt > org-board-2012-result.txt

Note on ballot queries

  • Paper 050 included double votes
  • Paper 063 tick in "RON" interpreted as 7 (final choice)
  • Paper 089 included double vote
  • Paper 209 included double votes
  • Paper 228 "0" in RON interpreted as NULL

Double votes were entered and interpreted according to the software at conversion to a BLT file

[Read more]


June 13, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Update on reported BT block of Black Triangle campaign website

Earlier this week TechWeekly reported the campaign group Black Triangle had complained that their site was being blocked by BT. From the TechWeekly piece:

"...for almost six months now the website has been blocked by BT alongside extreme pornography and political extremism.

The only way for BT customers to access the website is through TOR or proxy servers. The group claims this has been extremely damaging to its campaigning and fundraising efforts."

We asked BT about this and having looked into it, they have told us they can't find any evidence of a block or issue. Here's their statement:

"BT has never placed any block on this site.

In fact, when the issue was raised we found it difficult to find any BT customer that could not access it.

After significant discussion with the Black Triangle Campaign's representative and extensive technical analysis we have as yet been unable to find any technical issue on the BT network preventing access to this site.

We have asked Black Triangle for permission to speak its site hosts in Iceland to establish the cause of this issue."

We've asked Black Triangle whether they're still experiencing the problem and their take on what's happening.

It can be difficult to work out exactly what is happening and why with reports of website blocking. If you're on BT, drop us a note below to let us know if you are experiencing a problem.

You can read our report on mobile Internet censorship, where we write about evidence of a lot of mistaken blocking on mobile networks' child protection filters, here.

Update 14:50 June 13: We asked on Twitter for BT broadband users to check if they could access the site. It certainly seems like there are plenty of people who are struggling to access it. Here are some of the replies:

  • "@leydon @PatrickSocha @OpenRightsGroup Not working here and we're with Exponential E."
  • "@PatrickSocha: Anyone on BT able to access http://blacktrianglecampaign.org ? @OpenRightsGroup claiming it's down and it's not working for me.
  • "@MrLadoodle:  @PatrickSocha @openrightsgroup Not working here."
  • "@hatross: @OpenRightsGroup no. Can't connect"
  • "@techypaul: @OpenRightsGroup BT is blocking (no message, just hangs). IDNET is fine (we have fail over so tried both)."
  • "@smiggers: @OpenRightsGroup I too get a timeout. On BT Broadband not Infinity. Ping seems to work though."
  • "@andrew2186: @OpenRightsGroup I get the same timing out error as the one you RT'ed, and yet the website seems to be working fine: http://web-sniffer.net/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fblacktrianglecampaign.org%2F&http=1.1"
  • "@mobilizingmouse: @OpenRightsGroup Can't access via Bt broadband here in Herts."
  • "@aliguana: @OpenRightsGroup nope "Chrome could not connect to http://Blacktriangecampaign.org" -try loading cached copy gives 404 #bt"
  • "@guy_herbert: @OpenRightsGroup I'm on @BT and get "Error 118 (net::ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT): The operation timed out."

[Read more] (11 comments)


May 29, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Your MEPs can help stop ACTA this week

There are three crucial votes this week in the battle over ACTA. If you care about the treaty, this is a week to do something about it.

*UPDATE* May 31st 2012: All three committees (JURI, ITRE and LIBE) today voted against ACTA. A huge thank you to everyone who contacted their MEPs to express their concerns. You can read our reaction here

A number of MEPs are involved in some key votes in the European Parliament this Thursday, May 31st about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Whilst we have made great headway with MEPs in explaining why we believe ACTA is so flawed, it is by no means certain that ACTA has been defeated.

The votes this Thursday, in three of the Committees responsible for offering 'Opinions' on the treaty, will really affect whether the European Parliament ultimately rejects ACTA or not. It is important that your MEP understand people's concerns. And calling your MEP will help make this happen.

If you care about ACTA this really is an excellent, and relatively easy, way to do something about it.

It would really help if you could call the MEPs we have listed below.

We have split the MEPs by region – it is especially useful if to call them if you are a constituent of theirs. We have made it clear which committees they are members of, and outlined the key points for each committee, so you have an idea of what to talk to them about.

There are two really important things to say to them:

  1. Tell them why you care about ACTA. We have set out why we are concerned in a briefing note, which may help.
  2. Ask them to help oppose the treaty by rejecting ACTA through their committees' opinions.
You don't have to call them all of course. Although the more, the better. Oh, and remember to be polite - they're considering ACTA, not responsible for it!

Why are these votes important?

Each of these Committees will have to agree an opinion about ACTA, which will essentially set out whether they think it is an acceptable treaty from their perspective. These opinions will, in turn, be taken into account by the lead Committee, 'INTA' (which is the Committee on International Trade). And then the European Parliament will be influenced by this in the final 'plenary' vote in early July.

So that means the more these Committees say they are unhappy about ACTA, the more likely it becomes that the European Parliament will reject ACTA when it comes to vote in early July.

So what's happening this Thursday?

Three Committees will be voting this Thursday:

  1. Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) will vote on MEP Gallo's Opinion on ACTA
  2. The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) will vote on MEP Droutsas' Opinion
  3. The Industry Committee (ITRE) will vote on MEP Andersdotter's Opinion.

1. The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) and MEP Gallo's Opinion.

The JURI Committee will be voting on MEP Gallo's draft report. We believe this report should be rejected by the Committee. Here are three of the key reasons:

  1. MEP Gallo's report fails to acknowledge the dangers of private policing of the Internet, which is encouraged by ACTA.
  2. ACTA may not create new laws in the EU, but it does bind the EU to existing law and limits possibility of revision in the future. 
  3. MEP Gallo's report cites the European Parliament's legal services' opinions on ACTA. But some key elements of the legal services' opinions on ACTA have not been made public. The EU Parliament refused to publish them in full, unredacted form, saying that it would “seriously interfere with the complex ratification process”.

La Quadrature du Net have some more analysis of this over at their website.

2. The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) will vote on MEP Droutsas' Opinion.

We believe the LIBE Committee report from Rapporteur Dimitrios Droutsas should be supported. Rapporteur Droutsas' Opinion says:

"an adoption of ACTA would prematurely strangle the debate and tip the balance on one side, would allow for Member States to experiment on laws that could potentially harm fundamental freedoms and set precedents that could be undesirable for future societies."

The Rapporteur also highlights:

  • The legal uncertainty that ACTA would create
  • The lack of limitations and safeguards in the treaty
  • Concerns about the monitoring that may be involved in the identification of alleged copyright infringers.

3. The Industry Committee (ITRE) and MEP Andersdotter's Opinion.

The ITRE Committee will be voting on their Rapporteur MEP Andersdotter's report. We believe this should be supported, without the amendments some have proposed to water this down. The original report expresses concern that:

"the ACTA text does not ensure a fair balance between the right to intellectual property and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information"

and:

"creates legal uncertainty for European companies and in particular SMEs, technology users, online platform and internet service providers."

We believe the proposed amendments to MEP Andersdotter's report, particularly calling to postpone the debate and votes, should be rejected. For more on the proposed amendments, see La Quadrature du Net's update


Which MEPs are involved?

These MEPs will be voting this Thursday – we've split them by region, and noted which Committees they are members of. Please call these MEPs - especially if you are constituents of theirs. 

North West

Arlene McCARTHY, Labour
Committee: JURI
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45501
Email: arlene.mccarthy@europarl.europa.eu

Sajjad KARIM, Conservative
Committee: The LIBE,  ITRE and JURI
Group: ECR
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45640 - +322 28 47640
Email: sajjad.karim@europarl.europa.eu

Nick GRIFFIN, British National Party
Committee: The Industry Committee (ITRE)

Group: N/A
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45772 - +322 28 47772
Email: nick.griffin@europarl.europa.eu

North East England

Fiona HALL, Liberal Democrat 
Committee: ITRE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45561 - +322 28 47561 
E-mail: fiona.hall@europarl.europa.eu

Yorkshire and the Humber

Andrew Henry William BRONS, British National Party
CommitteeLIBE
Group: N/A
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45773 - +322 28 47773
Email: andrew.brons@europarl.europa.eu

Timothy KIRKHOPE, Conservatives
Committee: LIBE
Group: ECR 
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45321 - +322 28 47321 
timothy.kirkhope@europarl.europa.eu

Rebecca TAYLOR, Liberal Democrats 
Committee: JURI
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45201 - +322 28 47201 
E-mail: rebecca.taylor@europarl.europa.eu

West Midlands

Anthea McINTYRE, Conservative 
Committee: LIBE 
Group: ECR
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45106 - +322 28 47106 
Courriel: anthea.mcintyre@europarl.europa.eu

Michael CASHMAN, Labour 
Committee: LIBE
Group: SD 
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45759 - +322 28 47759 
Email: michael.cashman@europarl.europa.eu

East Midlands

Glenis WILLMOTT, Labour
Committee: LIBE
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45459 - +322 28 47459 
Email: glenis.willmott@europarl.europa.eu

Roger HELMER, UKIP
Committee: ITRE
Group: EFD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45764 - +322 28 47764 
E-mail: roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu

East of England

Vicky FORD, Conservative
Committee: ITRE
Group: ECR 
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45672 - +322 28 47672 
E-mail: vicky.ford@europarl.europa.eu

London

Gerard BATTEN, UKIP
Committee: LIBE and JURI
Group: EFD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45920 - +322 28 47920
Email: gerard.batten@europarl.europa.eu

Mary HONEYBALL, Labour
Committee: JURI
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45209 - +322 28 47209
Email: mary.honeyball@europarl.europa.eu

Jean LAMBERT, Green
Committee: LIBE
Group: Greens/EFA
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45507 - +322 28 47507
Email: jean.lambert@europarl.europa.eu

Baroness Sarah LUDFORD, Liberal Democrat
Committee: LIBE
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45104 - +322 28 47104
Courriel: sarah.ludford@europarl.europa.eu

Claude MORAES, Labour
Committee: LIBE
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45553 - +322 28 47553
Email: claude.moraes@europarl.europa.eu

South East of England

Sharon BOWLES, Liberal Democrat
Committee: JURI
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45221 - +322 28 47221
E-mail: sharon.bowles@europarl.europa.eu

Peter SKINNER, Labour
Committee: ITRE
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45458 - +322 28 47458
Email: peter.skinner@europarl.europa.eu

South West of England

Sir Graham WATSON, Liberal Democrats
Committee: LIBE
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45626 - +322 28 47626
Courriel: graham.watson@europarl.europa.eu

Giles CHICHESTER, Conservative
Committee: ITRE
Group: ECR
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45296 - +322 28 47296
E-mail: giles.chichester@europarl.europa.eu

Scotland

Alyn SMITH, SNP
Committee: ITRE
Group: Greens/EFA
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45187 - +322 28 47187
E-mail: alyn.smith@europarl.europa.eu

 

Get calling!

[Read more] (3 comments)


May 28, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Reporting 'over-blocking' to mobile operators

A quick update on what mobile networks have done so far to help people report cases of over-blocking.

Since we published our report 'Mobile Internet censorship: what's happening and what to do about it', jointly with LSE Media Policy project, a number of people have been in touch with us asking what to do if they discover their site is blocked incorrectly by mobile networks' child protection filters. 

The first thing to do - of course...! - is to submit the site to Blocked.org.uk, which we are using to keep track of how much 'over-blocking' is happening on UK mobile networks.

But if you are responsible for a site and have found it is blocked, you will also want to get in touch with the mobile networks concerned to check that it is blocked on their network and to get the site removed from the filters so everybody can access it again.

One of the points in our report was that it can be too difficult to do this - you can read about Coadec's problems trying to get their site removed from Orange's Safeguard on their blog.

The mobile networks have told us they are working on improving the way that these reports can be made, which is great. I wanted to do a quick update on progress so far. So I asked the networks what the best way to get in touch with them about this would be. If you are trying to contact the operators to get your site unblocked, here's what the networks offer at the moment:

We really want to keep track on how you get on reporting mistakes and misclassifications, and how the networks deal with them. So please let us know your experiences, either in the comments below or by emailing me.

Vodafone

For the moment, Vodafone have asked that these requests go to this email address: ukmediarelations@vodafone.com

They are planning to have a more specific address available soon.

Orange and T-Mobile

Everything Everywhere have set up an email address that will be directed to the 'Safeguard Product Manager', who will handle reports of misclassification. The email address to use is safeguard@everythingeverywhere.com and can be used for reports relating to both Orange and T-Mobile. 

O2

O2 have a useful URL checker, which also allows people to check sites' classification - which says whether and why a site is blocked - and to report if they consider the site to be classified incorrectly.

They also suggest letting them know via Twitter (@O2) or through their online forums (forum.o2.co.uk)

Three

Three told us their official position at the moment is: "if a Three customer believes a website is being incorrectly blocked then they should call our Customer Services team. We are currently reviewing how best customers can contact us to report these concerns."

They are working on improving the reporting mechanism, and I'll be asking them today how a non-Three customer can notify them of a block. I'll update this post when I've heard back.

 

[Read more] (2 comments)


May 23, 2012 | Jim Killock

Is the government’s transparency agenda hitting the rocks?

Are the big opportunities for citizen engagement, creating accountability and economic growth being missed?

Is the government’s transparency agenda hitting the rocks? Are the big opportunities for citizen engagement, creating accountability and economic growth being missed?

For the last 18 months, ORG has been watching the coalition’s Open Data policy. It has morphed from being an extremely ambitious project, with huge potential to revitalize democracy and drive innovation, to something rather confused. It has failed to address the big questions around data that is vital as infrastructure, like maps and post codes, but is currently sold rather than freely released.

Worse, the Open Data agenda has been used to promote the release of access to psuedonymised data, like health or benefits records, on commercial terms. This carries considerable risks and has nothing to do with (freely released) Open Data.

Today, we are presenting evidence to the Public Accounts Committee about the state of government Open Data policy. They are examining the National Audit Office’s report, which is critical of the government’s Open Data Strategy.

We will be highlighting two major problems. Firstly, the lack of a way of assessing the impact of releasing public data, especially data currently sold. This has led to essentially the status quo being kept in relation to the Public Data Group (Ordnance Survey, Met Office, HM Land Registry and Companies House).run by BIS.

These companies want to keep selling data, because it works for them. But is it the way to get the best value for the economy? The fact is that the government does not seem to know and has not published any methodology for assessing this problem.

The second question we will be talking about is privacy. A debate about commercial use of personal datasets, through ‘anonymisation’ techniques, has been thrown into the Open Data debate. It has nothing to do with Open Data, and raises serious questions. We want this placed in the open, and debated separately. We also want to know why the O’Hara report into privacy that the Cabinet Office commissioned has been demoted to a ‘consultation submission, needing no official response.

Read our full submission

[Read more]


google plusdeliciousdiggfacebookgooglelinkedinstumbleupontwitteremail