The controversial multi-national Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (Read: What is ACTA and How it Will Affect You) is steadily losing ground in the European Union, following key players’ withdrawal from ratifying the agreement. Germany and Poland’s holdback, following a wave of protests in the former and much debate in the latter, has fueled other nations’ misgivings about the vagueness with which the Agreement is written and the fact that there are no clear answers as to how it will ensure anti-counterfeiting and not violation of basic human rights.
The newest withdrawers are Bulgaria – which is waiting for a clearer stance in the entire EU about the Agreement – and the Netherlands, whose parliament refused to ratify the bill. The Dutch parliament is so vehemently against it that they will refuse to budge from their positions until there is irrefutable evidence that the Agreement will not harm basic human rights. This applause-worthy rejection comes with the same message as the open letter by various organizations that have vowed to protect internet freedoms:-
[T]he Commission’s analysis confirms that the current draft of ACTA would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens, most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy. These are very much at risk, since the current draft pushes for the implementation of three-strikes schemes and content filtering policies by seeking to impose civil and criminal liability on technical intermediaries such as internet service providers. The text would also radically erode the exercise of interoperability that is essential for both consumer rights and competitiveness.
However, is this the end of ACTA? Not really; a majority of Big Producer countries have signed the Agreement – from the US to Japan to South Korea. Europe is the final hurdle in this entire mess and we must hope that they fight the good fight and end this choking Agreement.
[Photo: Stop Acta by Robert Pasini]
The Internet has seen a rapid growth in information-flow over the last decade. Search, location based services and online knowledge bases have worked collectively towards creating a knowledgeable global society, which is well connected through this wonderful communication medium. The Internet is the largest network in the world, and the best thing about the Internet is that it has no formal owner or operating boundaries. For this reason, it has always attracted censorship laws that regulate the content flowing through it. This censorship gives legal control, and in a way, would give ownership to the regulating authority!
Over the last few months, SOPA and PIPA have been trying to take control of the Internet. Although they were finally averted with mass protests, it must be noted that SOPA and PIPA were not the only bills threatening the Internet and its user-generated content.
What is ACTA?
If SOPA was a speck of dust, ACTA is the real sandstorm here. ACTA stands for Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement and covers many other verticals, beside online content. Although the European Commission has some assurances and good-looking points for ACTA up on its website, it will definitely create upheaval in the free-speech world.
It looks like the SOPA war is getting bigger with another new group called UGNazi stepping in and hacking sites which support SOPA. The group has currently hacked Coach.com and Coachfactory.com to protest SOPA and are going to hack more sites in retaliation.
All the three sites are currently redirecting to a site called ugnazi.com which was created yesterday. It is not clear as to whether this is a new group or another form of Anonymous who have been taking down websites like that of FBI, CIA and more to retaliate government control and shutdown of sites like Megaupload.
Over the past few days, Megaupload was shut down by FBI and several other file sharing websites pulled the trigger on themselves with FileSonic stopping downloads, Uploaded.to blocking the U.S. users and several other file sharing websites shutting operations.
The UGNazi group had earlier hacked UFC.com website and is against the SOPA from USA and ACTA bill from Europe which are draconian piracy bills in their current form.
We understand that these websites will enevitably (sic) take back their website.
We don’t steal users data, only here to make them aware.
From SOPA/PIPA, to ACTA to just pissing us off…there is always a reason
It is unclear if the group is associated with Anonymous, but it looks like their motives are same. SOPA, PIPA and now ACTA have definitely stirred quite a few users on the internet and we will definitely keep seeing more such attacks in the future.