Friday, 27 January 2012


Those of us who thought the American PIPA and SOPA acts were bad need to start looking hard at the intended EU ACTA legislation. It is one of the most pernicious bits of legislation to threaten us in some time.

It’s strange isn’t it how the authoritarian dictates and tactics used to impose censorship and control  in one country echo those used elsewhere in the world. The forces driving these measures are global.

Just as SOPA and PIPA discussions were often held at short notice during the winter break to prevent opposition the EU has been discussing ACTA for years behind closed doors, in virtual secrecy. Even to the point that the draft has been agreed and signed off by many nations already – including the UK – with no domestic consultation whatsoever and months before it gets to the EU parliament for even their pseudo democratic discussion.

The acts supporters claim that it will not change the law, it’s just a simple trade agreement, therefore it requires no ministerial approval. You believe that at your peril!

Essentially it outsources copyright and IP protection to private firms, with powers to read your emails, get your ISP’s records and block you from the Internet. It would allow border guards to impound any goods or belongings that are thought to infringe copyright and even scan hard drives for infringing music and videos. It has implications for everything from generic medicines to shoes. Anything you own without a big business international brand name is potentially a target. There are no legal safeguards written in, assumption of guilt by the accuser is enough for them to take action. It’s not a ‘law’ you see, it’s just tidying up a ‘trade agreement’.

It must be bad when a French MEP has spoken out against it. Especially the way it was discussed and drafted in secret behind closed doors without external discussion. French MEP thinks it is antidemocratic!  

I desperately hope the companies like Wikipedia, Google and the like will oppose this legislation as enthusiastically as they opposed SOPA and PIPA. In the meantime publicity is vital.

A primer is here on Zdnet 

The MSM is waking up, even the Guardian!

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