As predicted, the most recent draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) generated by last week’s final round of negotiations in Tokyo has been released to the public. Judging from comments voiced by participating nations, however, the treaty is far from final.
Both the European Union and Mexico have expressed concerns about the provisions remaining in the agreement, with Mexico threatening to back out altogether.
Members of EU Parliament have been unhappy throughout the three-year ACTA negotiation process due to the secrecy surrounding it, and were further vexed that they did not receive the latest revision until it was released by the media. A number of members have threatened to block the agreement if requests for time to consider the potential effects are not honored.
Mexico took their distaste of the classified negotiation sessions even further by holding a Senate vote this week to reject international policies that are created in such closed-door processes.
“What we senators do not want is that the government endorses this document unilaterally and that there is not the possibility of exercising plural politics with a mixed work group like the one this point of agreement is proposing, because then what is left is the glitch between a document that has been signed by the government of the Republic and the yes or no of the ratification of the treaty by the Senate,” said Senator Fedorico Doring Casar.
As far as the agreement itself, there are still some major points of contention contained within the newly released draft.
While the controversial “three strikes” measure which would cut off internet access to entire households accused of illegal downloading is not a requirement within ACTA, the agreement does give nations free-reign to impose such laws if they choose. Such legislation already exists in France.
Additionally, nations will have the right to force ISPs to hand over information of suspected copyright infringers. Again, this is not a mandatory provision as many opposition groups had originally feared.
In fact, many websites who have had deep concerns about what ACTA would contain are starting to go on record saying that the agreement is “not as horrible” as they had anticipated.
From this point, each of the forty countries involved in the negotiations will hold a period of “public discussion” before deciding whether to finalize their signatures.
My hope is that each nation involved in ACTA will carefully consider all of the ramifications of the agreement and what it could do to citizens’ rights.