ALDE, the European Parliament’s Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, has recently confirmed that they are going to reject the ACTA. Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the alliance, supports intellectual property rights, but still believes that the treaty isn’t reaching the expected standards.
Guy Verhofstadt claimed that despite their support of the protection of intellectual property rights, they also care about human rights and freedoms. They pointed at serious concerns that the agreement didn’t strike the right balance. In addition, the alliance is going to support multilateral IP enforcement proposals, but the ones with a transparent, publicly discussed mandate only. Overall, it tends to agree on the concerns of those who boycotted the treaty in the past few months. Indeed, civil society has been vocal in the past few months in raising their legitimate concerns on the treaty, as there are too many provisions that lack clarity and certainty about the methods of their implementation in practice.
The main problem that the opposition points at is that ACTA was originally developed as a tool to deal with counterfeit products rather than with illegal sharing of digital content on the Internet. That’s what ALDE agrees with. In addition, the treaty wrongly bundles together different kinds of IPR enforcement, making physical goods and digital services equal.
However, the alliance believes that those should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, following a comprehensive mandate and impact assessment. A couple days ago the European Data Protection Supervisor also confirmed that the agreement could have unacceptable side effects on human rights. He said that while more international cooperation is required for the enforcement of intellectual property rights, the means envisaged can’t harm human rights. The governments should respect a right balance between how they tackle intellectual property infringements and the fundamental rights of privacy and data protection. Up to date, it seems that ACTA doesn’t succeed in this regard.
If the treaty is going to share the faith of Stop Online Piracy Act, you shouldn’t get your hopes high. Most likely, this won’t be the end of the “war”, because the American government is known to be working on yet another anti-piracy law – CISPA.