08 February 2010

EU's Unconvincing ACTA Act

The EU has made an official statement [.pdf] on ACTA. As you might expect, it is as wriggly a wriggly thing as a wriggly thing can. Here it is, with a few annotations:

The Commission can inform the Honourable Member that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be in line with the body of EU legislation, which fully respects fundamental rights and freedoms and civil liberties, such as the protection of personal data. This includes the Intellectual Property Rights' relevant aspects of the Telecoms package.

As for being in line with "EU legislation", this *already* allows ACTA-like provisions, so that's cold comfort.

ACTA should not contain measures restricting end-users’ access to the internet that would not be appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society and without a prior, fair and impartial procedure.

These are the same weasel words used in the Telecoms Package, and have no real weight whatsoever without judicial oversight: no protection there.

It is the Commission's view that ACTA is about tackling large scale illegal activity, often pursued by criminal organisations, that is causing a devastating impact on growth and employment in Europe and may have serious risks to the health and safety of consumers. It is not about limiting civil liberties or harassing consumers.

That may well be; but the great ACTA bait and switch means that civil liberties *would* be limited, and consumers *would* be harassed.

So, "no points - nul points - keine Pünkte", I'm afraid, for that attempt at mollification.

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Crosbie Fitch said...

It shouldn't be surprising that they're riffing on the popular confusion between (natural) rights and privileges (legally granted 'rights').

Intellectual Property 'rights' are not comprised in a subset of Human rights.

The media really need to get to grips with the fact that copyright and patent are commercial privileges, 18th century SUSPENSIONS of RIGHTS, i.e. the opposite of rights and consequently antagonistic rather than harmonious derivatives or adjuncts.

Copyright and patent suspend the human right to liberty (the natural right copy a published work, or to manufacture a device irrespective of whether it uses a design similar to one that has been registered).

Unfortunately, the very same media that reports on ACTA vs Human rights is going to be biased toward the preservation of copyright as if a human right.

I hope more bloggers can be impartial about it and point out the vital difference between right and 'right'.

Glyn Moody said...

@crosbie: good to have your feedback again. Yes, it would be nice if these distinctions were understood. But they're hard, and journos aren't known for writing well about hard stuff...