Joint Declaration on ACTA
Governments of Australia, Canada, European Union, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and United States are amongst those undertaking secret negotiations for a so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Amongst the many topics it reaches, ACTA would:
- allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to snoop on their clients and cut them off the Internet if sharing copyrighted files is alleged;
- establish “graduated response” measures and Internet Service Provider (ISP) liability, which leads to Internet filtering, as well as limits to the interoperability of legally acquired digital works;
- authorize border guards to search laptops and MP3 players and to seize them if they contain material that could seem to infringe on copyright; and
- introduce new criminal sanctions for copyright infringements, including sanctions for certain uses of the Internet that previously were not criminalized;
- affect other important issues, such as access to medication.
This is reason enough, in our opinion, to express concern about the consequences this agreement will have on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens of the concerned states. Our concerns are confirmed by documents from the European Commission, which clearly indicate that this Agreement will restrain certain rights and freedoms, particularly freedom of expression and protection of privacy.
The current process of negotiation, which is shrouded in secrecy, held in closed meetings between representatives of the participating Countries, is of particular concern for consumers. In fact, governments have participated in these meetings for over 18 months, without divulging the texts under negotiation or allowing the public to observe or participate. This negotiation process, in itself, raises important questions about the lack of transparency and about respect of democratic principles. It is extremely disconcerting to know that certain American industries have had access to ACTA documents, while the European Parliament and consumer groups have been refused such access.
Governments have the duty to inform their citizens about projected agreements under negotiation that will directly impact on their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Therefore, we call on the Members of Parliament, Congress or such representative assemblies of the negotiating countries to ensure that their governments act in a transparent manner in the current negotiation process by publishing the proposed Agreement, and to oppose any provisions that would impinge upon fundamental rights and freedoms.