Today, in spectacular fashion, the secretly negotiated Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was voted down in the European Parliament by a landslide 478 – 39.
Rodney Serkowski, founder of Pirate Party Australia and active campaigner against ACTA said, “The crushing defeat of this secretly negotiated and undemocratic agreement is a stunning victory for civil liberties and their primacy in the intellectual property rights debate. It is fitting that on July 4, Independence Day, the EU has declared its ‘independence’ from American special interests.”
The history of the Agreement is riddled with criticisms and controversy – from the resignations of the EU’s rappoteur on ACTA, to mass public protests.
“The comprehensive and humiliating rejection of this agreement by the European Parliament, and indeed our own Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, raises bigger questions about Trade Minister Dr. Craig Emerson and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It raises questions about the competency of the Minister and the Department, and even bigger questions about oversight and transparency of the negotiation process. It is clear that civil society and the public must be meaningfully engaged at the very outset to ensure positive and well constructed policy,” continued Mr Serkowski.
“I think what we can take from this sweeping rejection of ACTA, is that we need to now engage in considered structural reform, rather than broad, disproportionate enforcement. It’s a victory for internet freedom, access to medicines and common sense. We’re immensely happy with the comprehensive rejection, and we thank activists, politicians and academics who have worked tirelessly to highlight the failings and dangers of the agreement.”
The Pirate Party waits for movement on ACTA within Federal Parliament. The recent recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties coupled with the defeat in the EU could mean that ACTA will be abandoned here.
For citizens in Australia, the focus now moves to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which continues to be plagued by the same issues of secrecy and stakeholder exclusion. Two draft chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement have been leaked – one on intellectual property provisions, the other on investment.
“Information from leaked drafts indicates that it contains extremely worrying provisions that make ACTA seem like a walk in the park. We will continue to push for greater transparency and involvement of the public in the negotiating process of all future international agreements and treaties. Secrecy is not democracy,” Mr Serkowski concluded.