European Parliament demands transparency in ACTA talks

Threat of legal action if Parliametn isn't shown the controversial negotiating documents

The European Parliament demanded Wednesday that the European Commission open up secret negotiations about an anticounterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) to the public.

In a near unanimous vote, 633 members of Parliament (MEPs) backed the resolution, which says that the lack of transparency surrounding the negotiations is unacceptable. Only 13 MEPs opposed the resolution and 16 abstained.

Apart from the lack of transparency, the Parliamentarians also object to parts of the text that seek to clamp down on illegal file sharing over the Internet.

According to leaks of the confidential negotiating text that appeared last month, the U.S. has proposed a chapter of the treaty that focuses largely on copyright enforcement on the Internet.

It proposes forcing ISPs to take "effective measures" to ensure that their subscribers do not illegally upload or download copyright-protected content such as music or movies.

It also suggests that one way to do this would be for countries that sign the treaty to adopt policies such as the controversial "three strikes" rule recently adopted in France that requires ISPs to sever an illegal file-sharing subscriber's Internet connection after two warnings.

"We are giving private companies sweeping rights to monitor indiscriminately every citizen's activities on the Internet," said Stavros Lambrinidis, a Greek socialist MEP during a debate on the resolution late Tuesday.

And referring to the three strikes suggestion he added: "Access to the Internet is in itself a fundamental right. It must be treated and protected as such."

German liberal MEP Alexander Alvaro said that any international agreement affecting the everyday lives of European citizens "must be discussed in a transparent and public manner -- especially when issues such as blocking Internet access of citizens are part of the agreement."

Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, who heads the division of the Commission that is responsible for negotiating the ACTA on behalf of the European Union, said during the Parliamentary debate late Tuesday that he wants to make the talks more transparent, but he added that sharing the negotiating document with parliamentarians and the public, as the resolution demands, would require the unanimous agreement of all countries involved in the talks.

"The Commission is in favor of releasing the negotiating documents as soon as possible. However, a few ACTA negotiating parties remain opposed to an early release," de Gucht told MEPs, adding: "I strongly disagree with their approach, but I can not unilaterally breach a confidentiality commitment. My credibility as a negotiator is at stake."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags european unioncopyrightISPACTA

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Meller

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?