29. May 2012–
Some new, uncensored documents have come to light that show the European Commission’s failures in negotiating satisfactory terms for European citizens in relation to online rights, according to digital campaigners, Access Now and EDRi (European Digital Rights).
The notes, detailing four of the negotiation rounds as far back as 2008, have been made available in unredacted form for the first time, and campaigners claim that they show lack of transparency, failure to address vague terms and bending under the influence of US business.
The notes cover meetings in Paris 2008, Rabat and Seoul in 2009 and Guadalajara in 2010. The EDRi’s analysis comes just ahead of key voting rounds in the European Parliament in the coming weeks for the controversial agreement which has seen millions of European citizens takes to the streets to voice their concerns over breaches of individual freedoms.
Lack of transparency
One of the key issues of ACTA was claimed lack of transparency of the agreement – and the EDRi claims that little has been done to improve the situation: “The release of these documents gives us further proof that the negotiation of this dangerous Agreement was, despite continued assertions by the Commission to the contrary, not transparent,” said Raegan MacDonald, Senior Policy Analyst at Access.
“From the earliest stages, the Commission made weak and unsuccessful efforts to have a transparent process,” EDRi reports. “The EU ultimately agreed to work to keep all versions away from the public.”
Backing down for US business
Another key issue has been the struggle to handle the battering-ram of US businesses, who have been the main supporters of ACTA. The documents show that the EC agreed to a confidentiality agreement with the US, which allowed the agreement to be shown to “key stakeholders” under non-disclosure agreements, thus affording them with a massive advantage.
“Three strikes” controversy continues
The much-discussed “3 strikes” regime for dealing with illicit file-sharing also raises its head as a thorny issue. After the Commission first denied but was then forced to admit that negotiations on disconnections for infringement had taken place, it later said that all such proposals had been completely rejected. However, the meeting notes show no such discussion or conclusion.
The documents also show us that, despite claims to the contrary, the proposal on “three strikes” was not universally rejected, and further that it is a “subject of debate” in some Member States. The Commission initially claimed that proposals had been completely rejected.
The documents continue with a long list of damning claims not exerting enough influence, lack of clarification of terms and “lack of democratic credibility”. Read the full reports below.
ACTA taken to the court of European Justice