Activists protest as EU signs controversial ACTA
by Camillo de Marco
30/01/2012 - The European Parliament’s independent monitor for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) resigned Friday in protest after 22 European Union member states signed the anti-piracy treaty Thursday in Tokyo.
Kader Arif said that he condemned "the whole process which led to the signature of this agreement: no consultation of the civil society, lack of transparency since the beginning of negotiations, repeated delays of the signature of the text without any explanation give, reject of Parliament’s recommendations as given in several resolutions of our assembly."
Protests in Poland and Ireland sprung up over the treaty as critics warned that the treaty could lead to online censorship by extending existing intellectual property laws to the internet. Supporters of 'Anonymous,' an online activists group, staged a protest in Brussels on Sunday against the European version of the US SOPA and PIPA, which they said would curtail freedom of expression and encourage surveillance by Internet service providers.
Representatives from the European Union and 22 member states — including the UK, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden — attended a ceremony at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The five remaining member states — Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, Netherlands and Slovakia, are expected to sign up soon. The EU now joins other signatories Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the US, who signed up to the treaty in October 2011.
The signing does not mean that ACTA is as yet in effect, however - the European Parliament still has to ratify the treaty, and a vote is due in the summer.
(Translated from Italian)