ACTA is the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an extreme, far-reaching copyright treaty drafted in secret by industry and government trade reps, under a seal of confidentiality that even extended to Members of the European Parliament, who were not allowed to see what was being negotiated on their behalf. In February, the EU rapporteur (a member of the European Parliament charged with investigating pending legislation and presenting it to Parliament) for ACTA handed in his report and resigned as rapporteur, concluding that the treaty was a disaster for privacy, fairness and human rights, and that the process by which it had been negotiated was hopelessly corrupt. He recommended that the EU reject the treaty. He said, "I condemn 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 given, reject of Parliament's recommendations as given in several resolutions of our assembly."
Now, a few weeks later, David Martin, the new ACTA rapporteur has echoed those earlier recommendations, again telling the EP to reject ACTA, saying "The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties." Here is the conclusion from Mr Martin's report (PDF):
Unintended consequences of the ACTA text is a serious concern. On individual
criminalisation, the definition of "commercial-scale", the role of internet service providers
and the possible interruption of the transit of generic medicines, your rapporteur maintains
doubts that the ACTA text is as precise as is necessary.
The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential
threats to civil liberties. Given the vagueness of certain aspects of the text and the uncertainty
over its interpretation, the European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for
citizens' rights in the future under ACTA.
Your rapporteur therefore recommends that the European Parliament declines to give consent
to ACTA. In doing so, it is important to note that increased IP rights protection for European
producers trading in the global marketplace is of high importance. Following the expected
revision of relevant EU directives, your rapporteur hopes the European Commission will
therefore come forward with new proposals for protecting IP.