EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.10.08

Criminal Acta

Posted in DRM, Europe at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CRIMINAL ACTS of secrecy and policy-making which involve no-one among the public is an outrageous thing. The following is a press release from FFII.

EU Council refuses to release secret ACTA documents

Brussels, 10th November 2008 – The EU Council of Ministers refuses to release secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) documents. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) had requested these documents to make public and parliamentary scrutiny possible. After the Council’s refusal, the FFII sent in a confirmatory application, for the EU Council to review its position, as allowed by Article 7(2) of the regulation dealing with public access to such documents.

ACTA’s secrecy fuels concerns that the treaty may give patent trolls the means to extort companies, undermine access to low-cost generic medicines, lead to monitoring all citizens’ Internet communications and criminalize peer-to-peer electronic file sharing.

The EU Council refuses to release the secret documents stating that disclosure of this information could impede the proper conduct of the negotiations, would weaken the position of the European Union in these negotiations and might affect relations with the third parties concerned.

The FFII reaffirms its application stating that the legislative process in the EU has to be open. If the agreement will only be made public once all parties have already agreed to it, none of the EU’s national parliaments nor the European Parliament will have been able to scrutinise its contents in any meaningful way. To prevent this from happening, it may be necessary to renegotiate ACTA’s transparency.

The FFII’s confirmatory application letter questions ACTA’s secrecy in no uncertain terms: “The argument that public transparency regarding ‘trade negotiations’ can be ignored if it would weaken the EU’s negotiation position is particularly painful. At which point exactly do negotiations over trade issues become more important than democratic law making? At 200 million euro? At 500 million euro? At 1 billion euro? What is the price of our democracy?”

The Canadian government released documents under the Access to Information Act that provide additional insights into the secretive nature of the negotiations.

If the EU Council again refuses to release the secret documents, the FFII can take the case to the European Court of Justice. An earlier case on transparency of EU legislation took 6 years. By that time ACTA may long have entered into force.

Ante Wessels, FFII analyst, says: “We do not have so much time. The only solution we see is that the parliaments of Europe force the Council to publish the texts by making Parliamentary scrutiny reservations.”

Links

Note FFII’s confirmatory application letter is attached below.

Contact

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03
+32-484-566109
bhenrion@ffii.org

(French/English)

Ante Wessels
+31-6-100 99 063
ante@ffii.org
(Dutch/English)

FFII confirmatory application letter

Thank you for your reply informing us of the inability of the General Secretariat to grant access to the following documents:

  • Documents 12875/08, 13448/08 and 13750/08: working documents from the Commission Services concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
  • Documents 13382/08 and 13949/08: notes from the Presidency to Delegations concerning the Plurilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
  • Document 13637/08 (RESTREINT UE): an outcome of the consultation of the Justice and Home Affairs Counsellors on 26 September 2008 concerning the Plurilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – 3rd negotiating session 8-10 October 2008, Tokyo, Japan.

The given reason is that “Release of these documents would weaken the position of the European Union in these negotiations and might affect relations with the third parties concerned.”

Please find our confirmatory application herewith. We would appreciate if it could be made fully public in the Council’s Register of documents.

The European Union and its member states are built on the concept of a representative democracy. As the European Court of Justice ruled in the recent Turco case (joined cases C-39/05 P and C-52/05 P) on public access to legislative proposals and preparatory texts:

“Openness in that respect contributes to strengthening democracy by allowing citizens to scrutinise 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.”

The ACTA is a so-called “trade agreement”. While technically it is therefore not a legislative proposal, its acceptance will nonetheless lead to legislative and executive obligations for the undersigning parties. Hence, indirectly it will have the same effect as a legislative proposal. Simply calling it differently and using different negotiation procedures cannot be used as an excuse in a democratic society to get around all transparency principles and requirements of said society.

If, as currently planned, the agreement will only be made public once all parties have already agreed to it, none of the EU’s national parliaments nor the European Parliament will have been able to scrutinize its contents in any meaningful way. We believe this to be a gross violation of the basic democratic principles the EU is supposed to stand for. The argument that public transparency regarding “trade negotiations” can be ignored if it would weaken the EU’s negotiation position is particularly painful. At which point exactly do negotiations over trade issues become more important than democratic law making? At 200 million euro? At 500 million euro? At 1 billion euro? What is the price of our democracy?

And when exactly do relations with third parties become more important than the relations with the EU’s own citizens? Only when there is no upcoming referendum on a Constitutional Treaty? Are we only useful as a large consumer base that can be used as trading goods during trade negotiations in other times?

Heaven forbid that these consumers turn out to be also citizens that want to have a say in what their buying power is being exchanged for. After all, they might think that criminalising themselves in case they put a home movie of their children dancing to Britney Spears’ latest song on Youtube might not be such a good idea. Paying higher subscription fees for Internet access so that Internet Service Providers can install filtering devices resulting in lower speeds and censored web access may not sound very attractive either. And neither does giving patent trolls free reign, with compliments of the various governments.

In short: which overriding trade interests justify the complete and utter disdain for direct public and parliamentary scrutiny over the negotiations at hand? And at which point exactly do trade interests start taking precedence over democratic and transparent law making?

There is no such point. The Institutions know that the legislative process in the EU has to be open. Our negotiation partners know this too, or should have been informed. If our negotiation partners are uninformed about it, if openness could impede the proper conduct of the negotiations, the negotiation mandate is fundamentally wrong. However painful, the secrecy has to be renegotiated first. It has to go out.

That should not be a problem. The Commission asserted that it would not go beyond the status quo, the content should be uncontroversial. And international intellectual property agreements have traditionally been conducted in a more open and transparent manner. A rollback of democracy is not needed nor acceptable.

Sincerely yours,

Ante Wessels
FFII IPRED2 / ACTA workgroup

About the FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in over fifty countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ask
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • Slashdot
  • StumbleUpon
  • Alltagz
  • BarraPunto
  • blinkbits
  • BlinkList
  • Bloglines
  • blogmarks
  • BlogMemes
  • Fark
  • Gwar
  • Klickts

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. [Humour/Meme] Clown Computing for Clown CTOs/CIOs

    Yesterday's news from Microsoft is another reminder that the "Clown Computing" hype mostly targets lazy and reckless people (who can only say "the system is down" when it's down and cannot do anything about it; they lose not only control but also privacy, at both ends)



  2. EuroPython Sold Out (Not the Tickets; It Sold Out to Microsoft)

    EuroPython has just announced being ‘sold’ to Microsoft, just like PyCon, which means fake endorsements and advertisements, not to mention scripted “articles” and E-mail spam (as noted hours ago) because EuroPython sponsors want something in return/in exchange. They try to buy themselves a positive image/perception, never mind if it’s totally faked (and paid for). Python is, at several levels, being infiltrated by Microsoft using money as a weapon of entryism and the project is moreover being paid to move to the proprietary software monopoly called GitHub. Expect Microsoft critics to be muzzled even if they bring up legitimate issues/concerns.



  3. Links 16/7/2020: EasyOS 2.3.3, Pinephone in the Headlines

    Links for the day



  4. There's a Lot More to Race and Racism Than Colours (and Names of Colours)

    The push towards speech restrictions is being framed as tolerant people against bigots; in practice, however, there are salient points and angles that media chooses to overlook



  5. Commissioner Thierry Breton, Acting Like a Patent Maximalists' 'Mole' (as Expected All Along), is Now Formally Lying for Team UPC (Updated)

    The rogue Commissioner who was put there by people in positions of power (to perpetuate their power) is doing exactly what we'd expect from officials who work against the people (like a force of occupation rather than service, as in public service)



  6. The Web is Drying Up, Journalism is Coming to an End

    There's not much of value left in the World Wide Web as a source of news; people's minds are preoccupied with meaningless divisive wars and misinformation spreads rapidly, giving rise to more widespread censorship (in the name of 'protecting' us)



  7. EPO Management Has Hunted Down Journalists and Killed Journalism

    Buying, controlling and even censoring the media isn't that hard when you gather billions of euros from stakeholders (who have nowhere else to go because you have a monopoly in Europe) and enjoy zero oversight/regulatory assessments



  8. [Meme] Reminder: EPO Management Failed to Provide Staff With Facial Masks (as Advised/Required by Law)

    The health of staff of the European Patent Office (EPO) is still at risk; EPO management only cares about patents, not patients (monopolies, not people)



  9. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, July 15, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, July 15, 2020



  10. Links 16/7/2020: FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report, LibreOffice Has Plans, FSF Warns Against 'Online' Voting

    Links for the day



  11. Links 15/7/2020: New PinePhone, GCC 10.2 Release Candidate

    Links for the day



  12. [Humour/Meme] Stop Shaming Free Software Geeks Over What They Wear While They're Coding and Testing

    The corporate media repeatedly shamed Linus Torvalds because he's not wearing a suit and sometimes works in a bathrobe instead; this is the sort of ‘cancel culture’ psyche that looks to remove geniuses and achievers (Torvalds made Linux and Git) based on dumb assertions and superficialities



  13. Free Software as a Tree (It's Hard to Cut Off the Roots)

    Free software is extremely difficult to ban or to eradicate; it's almost inevitable that, by one route or another, 'world domination' will be attained in many sectors



  14. Censorship is for Pussies

    The attempts to remove words that aren’t in any way racist (or even suggestive of racism) are misguided at best; they don’t solve actual problems, but they pretend to be making people feel good (like the activists who push for it; that gives them as sense of power and morality)



  15. Twitter in 2020 is Where Information Comes to Die or to be Corrupted

    Twisting words, lying about the cited articles, declaring people dead (who are still alive!) are just some among the many reasons to quit Twitter and not bother with that noise machine (except maybe in a write-only fashion, copying from elsewhere and never receiving (mis)information from tweets)



  16. Mr. Lovenstein-Derived Joke about Microsoft's WSL (an Attack on GNU/Linux)

    Mr. Lovenstein's cartoon (or someone's modified version of it) about WSL/WSL2 sort of nails it (credit MinceR for the pointer)



  17. [Humour/Meme] Code of Conduct and Language Wars: Another Tool by Which to Oust Community Voices and Poor/Opinionated People of Colour (Because War Must Go On)

    The coup against GNU/Linux isn’t hard to see; Intel and Microsoft viciously attacked poor people in Africa (because they had adopted GNU/Linux) and now they get a say on who to kick out from Linux (based on entirely nontechnical things, including cultural differences)



  18. Links 15/7/2020: Deepin OS Expansion, openSUSE Board Non-Confidence Vote

    Links for the day



  19. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 14, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, July 14, 2020



  20. Twist and Turn, Show Us Your Face

    A little poem about digital privacy



  21. The Race to the Bottom of Tech Rights

    Tech rights (not to be confused with Techrights the site) are going down the drain; people are made complicit using fear tactics, having been told a lot of lies about so-called contact-tracing borderline pseudoscience



  22. [Humour/Meme] OIN Wants Us to Make Peace With Software Patents

    The way things stand, OIN is really not interested in solving the patent problem the Free software way; rather, it's looking to impose its own way on the Free software community



  23. The Last Thing Open Invention Network (OIN) Needs Right Now is Public Association With a Patent Trolls' and Software Patents' Propaganda Site

    The Open Invention Network (OIN) seems to be choosing rather odd platforms; the above publisher, a judge-bashing software patents extremist, cannot possibly improve OIN's image (by association)



  24. The EPO's Misleading 'Studies' Are Just More of the Same Perception Management Routines

    EPO management pays sites to publish a bunch of EPO-controlled propaganda; and we've meanwhile noticed that almost everyone in the press team of the EPO has left (to be replaced by the President's confidant)



  25. Links 14/7/2020: More Laptop Models With GNU/Linux and WordPress 5.5 Beta 2 is Out

    Links for the day



  26. Microsoft Has Not Changed at All (Only the Shallow Marketing and Control of What's Left of the Media Has Changed)

    Microsoft wants everybody to come closer so that everybody can be crushed; the tactics are largely the same



  27. The Founder of Black Duck Still Works for Microsoft

    Black Duck‘s founder, Doug Levin from Microsoft, isn’t doing a terrific job hiding his real loyalties and ‘masters’



  28. IRC Proceedings: Monday, July 13, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, July 13, 2020



  29. Links 14/7/2020: Claws Mail 3.17.6 and RSS Guard 3.7.0 Released

    Links for the day



  30. Microsoft Has Put the String “0xBIGBOOBS” Inside Linux (Kernel Driver for Microsoft's Windows-Only Proprietary Software, Formerly a GPL Violation); Reddit (Condé Nast) Bans You For Mentioning Such Things

    In this increasingly crazy atmosphere of mass sanctioning and permanent banning (removing everything or everyone that's perceived to be impolite) even "Linux" forums are banning people who point out Microsoft being a rogue corporation that's attacking GNU/Linux


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts