David Martin, the MEP charged with stewarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement through the legislative process in Europe, has recommended that the European Parliament reject the contentious treaty.
"The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties," Martin, the treaty's rapporteur, wrote on Thursday (PDF). "Given the vagueness of certain aspects of the treaty and the uncertainty over its interpretation, the European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for citizens' rights in the future under ACTA."
So far, 22 European countries have signed up to the agreement, but it needs to be ratified by the European Parliament to take effect. If the parliament votes against the treaty, then it is effectively dead.
"Your rapporteur therefore recommends that the European Parliament declines to give consent to ACTA," Martin wrote. "In doing so, it is important to note that increased IP rights protection for European producers trading in the global marketplace is of high importance."
ACTA was designed, behind closed doors, to establish new international standards for copyright enforcement. If passed, it would criminalise the circumvention of digital rights management and force imprisonment or monetary fines on those found guilty of distributing copyrighted digital content.
A previous ACTA rapporteur, Kader Arif, resigned from his position, partly due to the protests that gripped Poland after the country signed the treaty.
"ACTA would be a blow for democracy, and must be rejected," Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said in a statement. "The EU Parliament has a duty to stand up for civil liberties and seek better proposals on copyright and patent enforcement. ACTA endangers trade in cheap medicines, as well as our free speech online."