MEP who resigned ACTA role explains how the treaty will result in invasive border searches of personal devices, privacy-invading dissemination of public's personal information

Kader Arif is the former EU rapporteur on ACTA (the secretive copyright treaty pushed by the US Trade Rep) on Europe's behalf. He made headlines when he handed in his report on ACTA and his resignation as rapporteur, which damned ACTA as an undemocratic, overly broad and ill-conceived trainwreck. In this WSJ interview, Arif goes into detail on the problems that made ACTA utterly irredeemable, and Mike Masnick despairs at how Arif's successor in the EU is seemingly unwilling to stand up for the democratic principles that ACTA tramples.

First is the article 11 of the agreement, which states that the right holder has the right to ask for information “regarding any person involved in any aspect of the infringement or alleged infringement”. This article is worded in such wide and unclear terms that it leaves a great deal of room for interpretation. In practice, almost anyone could be linked to an infringement of intellectual property rights and face criminal sanctions under such a vague definition. It is our responsibility as legislators and people’s representatives not to leave it to a judicial authority to decide of the scope of an agreement which could affect people’s civil liberties.

The second is the issue of having travelers’ personal luggage searched at borders. ACTA foresees that the use of counterfeited goods on a commercial scale can lead to criminal sanctions. But here again no definition of “commercial scale” is given. Article 14 of the agreement clearly states that, unless contrary action is taken by one of the parties, it is possible to search people’s personal luggage, including small consignments. So if a traveler has on his laptop or MP3 player a tune or movie downloaded illegally, could he face sanctions ? How many tunes or movies would one need to set up a commercial illegal activity? In theory one would be enough… The problem again here is that ACTA does not give any clear indication. Besides the fact that it is an extremely sensitive issue to authorize for the search of all travelers’ luggage, and personally I am totally opposed to it, I see here a great risk for abuse and unjustified sanctions.

EU Official Who Resigned Over ACTA Details Why ACTA Is Dangerous; While His Replacement Seems Unlikely To Care


  1. It would probably also result in strong encryption entering the mass market for personal electronics. 

    And then being outlawed.

  2. The lack of transparency on this act is just scary. The fact that governments are snubbing their own constituents just to get it passed is just plain sinister.

    There is no way that this bill bodes well for any of us given these circumstances.

  3. How do border guards tell the difference between an mp3 that I “downloaded illegally” and one that I made at home from my own CD?

    1.  based on what I’ve seen of the various laws about this, you would somehow have to prove ownership of the file- something quite impossible to do. The psycho0 copyright crowd don’t feel the need to prove ownership of copyrights, but rather feel that you should have ot prove your innocence.

  4. After finally getting over the shock of what ACTA does, I then had to marvel and be horrified at a system that is willing to pass this into law.

  5. The guy who is replacing him sez:

    “I want the Parliament to have a facts-based discussion and not a debate around myths. That is why I want to have an open debate with all actors concerned …

    “ACTA should not change existing European law in this area …
    “I will not be rushed and will be open and transparent in my deliberations.”

    We’ll see… meanwhile, here’s his Twitter.

    Oh, and he voted against defining ‘commercial scale’ in ACTA. So, that’s promising. :(

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