European ISPs attack secret Acta copyright talks

European ISPs attack secret Acta copyright talks

Summary: Secret international negotiations threaten the openness of the internet, the European ISP Association has warned after details of the talks were leaked


Europe's ISP industry body has attacked a global copyright agreement, currently being negotiated in secret, that could lead to the disconnection of internet users who are accused of persistent copyright infringement.

The European ISP Association (EuroISPA) said in a statement on Monday that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) threatened the openness of the internet and would not, in any case, be effective in fighting copyright infringement. The organisation also criticised the fact that citizens' representatives are not involved in the negotiations.

Acta is currently being negotiated between trade representatives from the EU, the US, Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia and other countries.

EuroISPA president Malcolm Hutty commented in the statement that "such heavy-handed measures [as disconnection] would create a serious danger of undermining and restricting the open innovative space that lies at the very heart of the internet's success. This agreement would have a negative impact on internet users without having an appreciable impact on fighting illicit use of copyrighted material".

In its latest summary of topics being discussed within the Acta negotiations, the EU defended the secrecy of the talks, saying it was "accepted practice during trade negotiations among sovereign states to not share negotiating texts with the public at large, particularly at earlier stages of the negotiation".

In its statement, EuroISPA said it was "concerned that the attempt to implement such measures through a trade agreement, rather than a conventional legislative process, will not allow the various stakeholders, such as European citizens' representatives, to enter the debate".

EuroISPA also noted a recent leak that suggested the copyright-enforcement measures being considered are, in the ISP association's words, "severe and wide-ranging". The leak was of a document entitled European Union's comments to the US proposal: Special requirements related to the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the digital environment, posted to German site Die Linke.

The US proposal for the measures to be contained in Acta has not been made public, so this leaked EU commentary is the only publicly available indication of its contents.

The leaked document refers to "termination of subscriptions and accounts" and notes that "the US proposal provides for both civil and criminal protection against copyright infringement", which goes beyond sanctions detailed in existing treaties.

Andrea D'Incecco, EuroISPA's public affairs chief, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that the document described a "repressive system" that would replace legislative debate with contractual arrangements between private parties.

"This is about fundamental rights to access the internet, not just contractual clauses," D'Incecco said. "Only a judge should be allowed to pronounce on the limitation of such fundamental rights."

Following the leak of the EU's comments, Canadian internet law expert Michael Geist said the leak "reinforces the need for all governments to come clean".

"Releasing both the Acta text and government analysis of the treaty should be a condition of any further participation in the talks," Geist said on his blog.

Topics: Broadband, Government UK, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • ACTA

    Doesn't surprise me that the U.S. government wants to act in this manner. Seems they want to make every citizen dependent on the government for everything. Individual's freedoms are rapidly being eradicated.
  • Typical dictatorial attitude from the EU and others

    Just what you would expect from an EU which becoming more and more federalist and increasingly dictatorial in attitude. After all, the EU is controlled largely by unelected representatives and bodies!
  • Excuuuuuse me!

    They are openly critical of SECRET talks aimed at restricting or even totally wiping out ordinary peoples rights... And you think that is wrong!!!
  • Tezzer, you misunderstand my comment

    It is the trade and government bodies I am talking about, not the EuroISP who have exposed these secret talks.
  • Oops!

    Sorry :O
  • I am not so sure that it is the US government.

    It looks to me more like a "super-lobby" on behalf of the "media- mafia".
    They certainly WOULD like to have a system as fascist as it takes to do whatever they want and to more or less OWN the public totally.

    They will probably never stop, unless a strong anti - movement in the general public comes forward with something like:
    All extensive copyrights shall have to be reduced severely until a new set of copyright laws can be made.

    Those new copyright laws will have to put a LOT more rights back to society.

    After all; copyrights are just privileges given by society, and when these rights are so massively abusing the rights of society, then society has EVERY RIGHT to reduce these previleges.

    They are not God given rights.
    They are merely privileges given that can be taken away any time society find it nessesary or just resonable.
  • Bullshit...

    "In its latest summary of topics being discussed within the Acta negotiations, the EU defended the secrecy of the talks, saying it was "accepted practice during trade negotiations among sovereign states to not share negotiating texts with the public at large, particularly at earlier stages of the negotiation"."

    This has being ongoing for 3 or more years now, so that excuse ran out a long time ago!

    Besides anyways such people from the EU have tried to argue the fact that on one occasion as many as 100 independent citizens turned up, to observe some of the aspects of this case being openly discussed within the EU.

    Let me get this straight 100! out of how many? I think I can comfortably say the only reason why that building along with the delegates and there personal security wasn't leveled that day, was because no citizens from Europe where told about it!

    Another thing since when do the US have any say on the matter's that effect the Europeans?!?! this has nothing to do with trade!