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.