Europeans: finally a chance to ask your reps to oppose ACTA

European MEPs from Greece, the Czech Republic and Germany have submitted a declaration opposing ACTA, the secret copyright treaty that is the first piece of global Internet law to be negotiated in private, without participation from poor countries, the public, or the press. Now they have 90 days to get their fellow MEPs to sign onto it, and if they make it, the opposition will be formally adopted by the European Parliament.

If you're a European, please write to your MEP (contact info here) and ask for their support for the "Written declaration on the lack of a transparent process and potentially objectionable content concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) from - Zuzana Roithova (CZ, EPP), Stavros Lambrinidis (GR, S&D), Alexander Alvaro (DE, ALDE) and Françoise Castex (FR, S&D)."

Help the European Parliament oppose ACTA (Thanks, Ricardo!)


  1. Would there be a point to us danes writing our MEP?

    I mean, it seems our government are opposed to democracy on this issue…

  2. I work at the European Parliament as assistant to an MEP.

    To Anon @ #5, the declaration will appear on the first day of the first plenary session after it’s been logged, i.e. Monday 8th March. I agree on the transparency issue, but if you contact the office of one of the declaration’s authors and you say you’d like to know who signed or whether someone in particular signed, they know.

    Here are a few tips to make the lobbying most efficient:

    – Explain why it matters to their constituents (yourself if it’s one of your MEPs);
    – Show why it’s important that the European Parliament takes a stance. The Parliament enjoys newly-acquired powers thanks to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, and MEPs *like* that. Show them how the declaration will be a demonstration of power;
    – E-mail between 8.30am and 4pm, Monday to Thursday; that’s when assistants can most likely bring stuff to their MEPs’ attention;
    – Call your MEP’s office during a Strasbourg week (a string of 4 days in red on ), this is when they will be most likely to go sign the declaration; their Strasbourg phone number is the one starting with +33 3 88…;
    – Never, ever, ever send bulk mail, it won’t be read: include at least one element that shows you’re writing to them and then alone (yes, copy-paste the rest of the text, but have that personal bit towards the beginning!);
    – When you e-mail, address your MEP. But you *don’t* want to ask to speak to the MEP when you call: make friend with their assistant first! Explain the matter to them, try to win them over, and then your request will be much higher up the MEP’s pile of papers to read;
    – Read

    Good luck and crossing fingers that this campaign works!

  3. Here’s mine, sent with variations per MESO’s recommendations, to each of my MEPs. Suggestions and criticisms welcomed, for the next time I contact them.

    I’m writing to ask for your support for the “Written declaration on the lack of a transparent process and potentially objectionable content concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)”, from Zuzana Roithova (CZ, EPP), Stavros Lambrinidis (GR, S&D), Alexander Alvaro (DE, ALDE) and Françoise Castex (FR, S&D).

    Why does this matter to me?

    I run a website where Christian missionaries in [country] can securely communicate with their families in the UK and US. I don’t share their religion, but I strongly believe in their right to pursue it unmolested. But if found, these missionaries and their families and friends in [country] can (and have been!) jailed, tortured, and even executed.

    ACTA (as far as I can tell) has provisions to force ISPs to give information without requiring a warrant, and it has provisions for sharing that data across borders.

    Could I be legally forced by ACTA to reveal these people’s identities, if China claims they violated copyright?

    I can’t tell: discussion’s closed. But the idea terrifies me.

    Why might it matter to you, as a person?

    ACTA affects the property rights and liberties of every person and business in Europe. If everyone is affected, then everyone deserves to hear what people are agreeing to on their behalf.

    Why might it matter to you, as an MEP?

    The power of the European Parliament is useless, if it’s not used, and seen to be used.

    Allowing lobbyists to shove through the ACTA without transparent process would show the European parliament to be toothless, and MEPs to be powerless to make their constituent’s voices heard, or defend our country against the policy-laundering of others.

    In the end, I suppose you need to ask yourself:

    1) Who stands to lose out if ACTA is discussed openly?

    2) Is their need a just one: are there any lives at risk, to make it a matter of national, and international, security?

    If not, then please support this declaration to demand open discussion on the ACTA.

    Yours sincerely,
    Dewi Morgan

  4. And here’s a reply (only one I’ve had), from Catherine Bearder, one of two LibDem MEPs for the SouthEast. She’s even got a YouTube link of her asking about this issue herself. This is why I keep voting LibDem: they’re the only ones with their heads screwed on right (two now-infamous Lords notwithstanding!)

    I’ve bolded the bits that made me happiest :D

    Dear Mr Morgan,

    Thank you writing to me regarding the lack of a transparent process and potentially objectionable content concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

    The secrecy surrounding ACTA has concerned me and many of my constituents as it has many MEPs. Although I haven’t yet sign the written declaration you refer to, I will be and as a member of the Committee on International Trade Committee I met with the Commission last week to discuss the unacceptable level of secrecy in which these negotiations are shrouded, and have demanded that we in the Parliament, as the only directly elected representatives of the Public in Europe, be immediately given access to the final draft of the consolidated negotiating text. You can view my question here. [“here” linked to – worth watching!]

    Following severe criticism from myself and a number of my colleagues, I received assurances from David O’Sullivan, the Director General for Trade that ACTA will not in any way impinge on the right to privacy of the individual as has been reported by a number of people in the press and lobbying organisations. Mr O’Sullivan assured me that suggestions that could lead to the compulsory inspection and potential seizure of personal computers and iPods by customs are baseless and false. Rather the agreement is intended to create an international framework to prevent systematic, trans-national, large-scale infringements of IPR. He clarified that the European Commission did not object to the release of the documents into the public domain but that a number of the other negotiating partners – reportedly the USA and Mexico are currently blocking an agreement on public disclosure of the text. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that the European Commission could do more and should now adopt an active approach to persuading their trading partners that secrecy in trade agreements such as these is not only undemocratic, but also serves to exaggerate public suspicion and fear that they will be disadvantaged by the final text.

    The liberal group in the European Parliament, of which the Liberal Democrats form a significant part are currently leading the call for increased transparency in these negotiations. We have co-tabled a cross-party resolution calling for the release of the documents by the Commission into the public domain. While the Liberal group is current taking the strongest line on this, it is anticipated that a cross-party compromise text will be endorsed next week at the Parliament’s Plenary meeting in Strasbourg.

    On a national level, the Liberal Democrats are also working hard to increase transparency in public life and in these negotiations in particular. Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Don Foster recently wrote to Lord Mandelson demanding that he come clean on the implications of the ACTA agreement for UK legislation, and what it will mean for UK consumers.

    Thank you once again for contacting me. I hope this response has been of use to you.

    Yours sincerely,
    Catherine Bearder MEP

    Seriously, I’m impressed. It’s the best reply I’ve ever got from an MP or MEP. I’m hardly reassured by David O’Sullivan’s claims, but it’s great to know that some of our MEPs are fighting the good fight.

  5. Got two more letters, one from Sharon Bowles the LibDems, and one from someone in the office of Caroline Lucas of the Greens.

    So now I’ve a paid membership subscription to the LibDems.

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