November 3, 2008

FFII opposes stealth legislation, demands ACTA documents

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Brussels, 3rd November 2008 – The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) has requested 12 secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) documents from the EU Council. Behind closed doors, the EU, US, Japan and other countries are negotiating ACTA. The negotiating parties plan on making the ACTA text public only after the parties have agreed to it.

Based on leaked information, the FFII is deeply concerned that ACTA may give patent trolls further means to extort companies, lead to monitoring all citizens’ Internet communications and criminalize peer-to-peer electronic file sharing.

Parliaments and the public are in the dark about ACTA. Stakeholders, experts and public interest organisations can not scrutinize ACTA documents. Both the European Parliament and the member states of the EU have vetoes on aspects of ACTA. FFII analyst Ante Wessels says: “Parliaments cannot build an informed opinion about ACTA and therefore will not be well prepared to use their power.”

On its website, the European Commission calls ACTA “path breaking”. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee expressed concerns that ACTA will prescribe rules for protection so specifically that it could impede Congress’s ability to make constructive policy changes in the future. In September more than 100 public interest organizations called on officials from the countries negotiating ACTA to publish immediately the draft text of the agreement.

Ante Wessels: “With the Computer Implemented Inventions directive, we could finally convince people it was actually about software patents. This time the Commission and Council keep all texts secret. We believe there is no room for stealth legislation in the EU.”

The FFII finds support in a recent European Court of Justice judgment. In the Turco case, the Court stressed the importance of access to preparatory legislative texts: “Openness in that respect contributes to strengthening democracy by allowing citizens to scrutinize all the information which has formed the basis of a legislative act. The possibility for citizens to find out the considerations underpinning legislative action is a precondition for the effective exercise of their democratic rights.”

Requested documents

The FFII requested the following documents in full, without any deletions.

As the quantity and detailed titles of the documents demonstrate, negotiations are already in an advanced state.

  1. Recommendation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to open negotiations of a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (26-03-2008 7759/08)
  2. Recommendation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to open negotiations of a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (20-06-2008 7095/08)
  3. Recommendation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to open negotiations of a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (24-07-2008 15486/07)
  4. Recommendation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to open negotiations of a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (24-07-2008 12875/08)
  5. Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – Draft EU reaction to Japan/U.S. Joint Proposal on Civil Enforcement (10-09-2008 15486/07 REV1)
  6. Recommendation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to open negotiations of a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (10-09-2008 7095/08 REV1)
  7. Recommendation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to open negotiations of a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (11-09-2008 13448/08)
  8. Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – Revised draft EU reaction to Japan/U.S. Joint Proposal on Civil Enforcement (24-09-2008 13382/08)
  9. Plurilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – Civil law measures (23-09-2008 13637/08)
  10. Plurilateral Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) 3rd negotiating session 8-10 October 2008, Tokyo, Japan Chapter 2 :Draft Criminal provisions Japan-USA Joint proposal, dated 12 September 2008 (29-09-2008 13750/08)
  11. Anti-Counterfeiting trade Agreement (ACTA) – Compilation of all comments provided by ACTA partners on the civil enforcement chapter (02-10-2008 13949/08)
  12. Plurilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) 3rd negotiating session, 8-10 October 2008, Tokyo – Civil law measures (08-10-2008)

Contact

FFII Office Berlin
Malmöer Str. 6
D-10439 Berlin
Fon: +49-30-41722597
Fax Service: +49-721-509663769
Email: office (at) ffii.org
http://www.ffii.org/

About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1,000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.