First SOPA/PIPA – then ACTA. Round 2!

OK fresh from the wins of the Great Internet Blackout, it’s time to remember that ACTA, The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (remember that?) has NOT gone away, it’s coming up for the final vote in the European Union, despite major problems with the lack of transparency, a massive vote against it in 2010, private and public concerns of member states, and leaks about the role of the US in railroading it through. We’re facing a similar SOPA situation here – copyright infringement becoming a criminal not civil offence, people being allowed to be cutoff from the internet, ISPs being asked to snoop, patent rights could mean life-saving generic drugs are at risk, and privacy of European Citizens is at threat. And that’s just the start, as the Act is as wide open and loose as Goatse.
As well as being HORRENDOUSLY complex…I hope while half asleep I understood half of it…but don’t be scared by that, even if it’s just a gut instinct and unhappiness about how the Act was formed it’s still valid to raise that with your representatives – cos the checkered past of ACTA has raised major diplomatic and democratic issues anyway.

So those in the EU MUST write or phone their MEPs – you can do this via WriteToThem…and put a similar pressure onto them as did SOPA, in fact using that energy and the message sent out from the Big Blackout those representatives will be scared of it happening here too…and might be aware of the similarities. Remind them.

Here’s my letter to my MEPs:

Dear Charles Tannock, Gerard Batten, Syed Kamall, Jean Lambert, Sarah Ludford, Marina Yannakoudakis, Claude Moraes and Mary Honeyball,

I am writing to you all as my European representatives over my concern over the upcoming consent of ACTA in the European Union – the final decision point of a process that has been far from transparent and far from democratic (and has been pushed in private by the US; Wikileaks and others have revealed cables proving this). And as the vote at the end of 2010 proved (640odd against to 13!), it seems far from an unanimous agreement.

As a citizen I’m concerned not just at the secretive dealings and lack of transparency (and the undemocratic nature of how ACTA has come to pass), but also that copyright infringement will become a criminal offence rather than usually a civil offence, there’s a real danger of criminalising whole future generations for minor offences, people being cut off by their ISPs (such a contentious law that even with the Digital Economy Act the current government is scared to try), and giving power to corporations and those who have expensive lawyeres – usually the media corporations and in current parlance ‘the 1%’. Copyright should stay a civil matter where possible, and not give in to bullying from either conglomerates, corporates or world powers in that fact – police have much better things to do (like defending people’s lives!) than arresting people in copyright disputes – this would be an Orwellian and frankly ludicrous state of affairs.

I see claims that it’s been ‘toned down’ but my research says otherwise, ACTA is scarily wide in brief and unfortunately as we’ve seen laws which are wide in scope are apt to be used in ways that yourselves as those who draft and guide these laws never even imagined. This is why I think ACTA is flawed and I hope you as my representatives vote against or push internally in Brussels to not support such flawed legsislation – as I think like SOPA and PIPA in the States have shown many people are worried and upset about legislation like this ‘breaking the internet’, destroying net neutrality, criminalising children and wasting police and public servant’s time in thrall of those large media giants, and even preventing generic drugs to help the developing world because of patents…this does not seem a fair world, giving those with power to threaten the powerless is not the role of government, rather the opposite.

I hope you heed the internet blackout and the response over PIPA and SOPA in your deliberations over ACTA, these laws come from the same root and have the same issues over privacy, online liberty, freedom of expression, control, power of corporations, and even the right to get lifesaving drugs without paying an impossibly high price – this could be a matter of life and death in those situations. I hope you and the rest of the European Parliament do the right thing and vote against ACTA becoming law.


Tim B


  1. Sabrina Hughes
    January 20


    • January 20

      Excuse me? You come to my site Sabrina and ask me how I dare express myself about something I passionately believe in.

      Surely you should be asking yourself: why do you dare not?

  2. January 23

    Keep up the good work. Content owners had a right to seek redress against theft of their property, but their interest must be carefully weighed against the legitimate needs of the public and the right of individuals to express themselves. It’s hardly fair that an individual’s identity becomes public property simply because he is famous (for example, Mark Zuckerberg) and he can be lampooned by others freely (as he was in a recent Hollywood exploitation movie) as an expression of free speech, but when a corporation (for example, Disney) spends billions imposing their characters on the public consciousness, individuals cannot legally lampoon those characters without being prosecuted for copyright infringement. This monster was largely but not entirely created in my home country (USA), but people everywhere need to demand that their governments push back against what amounts to the corporate version of American cultural imperialism.

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