First ACTA debate tonight in European Parliament

Tonight (Wednesday), after two and a half years, MEPs will debate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for the first time. The debate is scheduled for the last session, between 9pm and midnight.

MEPs have in the past taken a strong line against ACTA. Kader Arif MEP has reiterated that the Parliament’s opinion must be taken into account, even if that means that ACTA has to be re-negotiated.1

Carl Schlyter, an MEP from the Greens/EFA, has sought an expert opinion on ACTA from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Group, an independent EU advisory body.2 He challenges whether ACTA is even compliant with the Maastricht Treaty.

ACTA has also received considerable opposition outside of the EU. A US Senator has requested a legal review of ACTA 3 and the Mexican Senate voted to withdraw the country entirely from ACTA negotiations 4.

The misleading titled ACTA goes beyond addressing counterfeiting, but aims to establish global standards for regulation of the Internet and enforce online copyright infringement.

Moreover, like with many treaties in the past, the US and EU will “encourage” other countries to agree to ACTA provisions in return, for example, for access to US or EU domestic markets. Arguably this coerces developing countries into implementing legislation that is wholly inappropriate for them and in which they had little, if any, say.