ACTA suffers major blow following European rejection call

Summary:ACTA could be 'dead in the water' after the treaty's rapporteur said in his recommendations to Brussels that the European Parliament should reject the agreement.

ACTA, the controversial anti-counterfeit and copyright-bolstering treaty, which at one point threatened the very existence of the Web, may not have its desired global effect should the European Parliament reject the trade agreement.

And it's one step closer to being thrown out after the guiding "rapporteur" for the treaty warned fellow parliamentarians not to pass the agreement in Europe's 27 member states.

The blow that could derail the European efforts to ratify the agreement came as new rapporteur David Martin MEP --- only a few weeks after Europe's original guiding light Kader Arif MEP resigned in protest of the proposed treaty --- told his fellow members of the European Parliament to reject the bill when it comes before them later this year.

Martin said in his written recommendations [PDF]: "The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties. Given the vagueness of certain aspects of the text and the uncertainty over its interpretation, the European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for citizens' rights in the future under ACTA."

"Your rapporteur therefore recommends that the European Parliament declines to give consent to ACTA," he concluded.

Despite 20 member states of European Union already accepting the terms to ACTA, the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in Brussels are given the final say --- much like in many other instances of European law.

In 2010, the European Parliament voted not to pass ACTA if it included a three-strike rule; measures which would force persistent file-sharers and copyright infringers off the web after three warnings. Backed heavily by the MPAA and the RIAA, while it doesn't guarantee the U.S. will not enforce such a rule, it means European citizens will not be subject to a three-strike system.

If Europe rejects ACTA, the 20 member states will have their signatures erased and will not be able to participate in the treaty, leaving the United States, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and a few others fighting the battle alone.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Martin added that secrecy was one of the agreement's main failings, and that governments were anything but transparent about the once-secret process.

While the Parliament could reject Martin's recommendations and pass the agreement, staunch opposition, protests and clashes around Europe have sent a strong signal to Europe's finest to avoid making such moves.

But even if the ACTA agreement falls at the parliamentary hurdle, Martin warns that new directives and proposed legislation will still be conjured up by the Commission --- and has already been working on such laws --- as part of its efforts to bolster copyright and counterfeiting laws for its 500 million citizens.

Image credit: Polish media/CNET.

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About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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