Most EU Members Sign ACTA; SOPA-Style Protests Building
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch on 27/01/2012 @ 4:04 pm
While most of the 27 member states of the European Union signed the much-debated Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) yesterday in Tokyo, joining the United States, Japan and other ACTA partners, hackers brought down the website of the European Parliament, and a key official stepped down. This may be only the beginning of the protests and petitioning.
For nearly all of Thursday, the Parliament site was down under the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. Members of Parliament and their offices were informed by their IT service that the attack was the doing of people from the Anonymous group, a spokesperson said. More attacks had been made by hacker groups on Monday against official sites of ministries in Poland and Austria.
Several EU countries still have to sign the agreement which has been criticised as biased towards IP rights holders, but also because of the secrecy and “country-club-style” nature of its negotiation.
The European Commission published a document intended to defuse scepticism about ACTA, available here  [pdf]. The Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) published a counter to this Commission document, available here .
Significantly, Kader Arif, the designed ACTA rapporteur of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade – the leading committee for the dossier – yesterday stepped down from his duty in protest , calling the procedure to pass ACTA a “masquerade” because of the lack of consultation with non-governmental organisations, the secrecy and also an unprecedented pressure on the Parliament to fast-track ACTA.
The Parliament, according to the current timetable, is expected to vote on ACTA in May, and only then is the European Union’s ratification of the document valid. The hacking attack on the Parliament’s website therefore potentially hit the wrong target, said the assistant of one MEP yesterday. Certainly one effect was that ACTA now has popped up as a very sensitive issue on every MEP’s agenda, he said.
More hacking attacks internationally should well be expected, given the call by activists to turn attention to ACTA after attacks on similar US bills called SOPA and PIPA were so successful (IPW, US Policy, 20 January 2012 ).
France’s La Quadrature du Net issued a release  protesting the signing and describing the path from here to the vote in the Parliament.
And a petition against ACTA  has been created which claims to have amassed over a half million signatures in two days. The petition is here.
William New contributed to this report.
Article printed from Intellectual Property Watch: http://www.ip-watch.org
URL to article: http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/01/27/most-eu-members-sign-acta-sopa-style-protests-building/
URLs in this post:
 available here: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2012/january/tradoc_148964.pdf
 available here: http://acta.ffii.org/?p=1082
 stepped down from his duty in protest: http://www.kader-arif.fr/actualites.php?actualite_id=147
 IPW, US Policy, 20 January 2012: http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/01/20/us-senate-postpones-pipa-vote-eu-commissioner-joined-opposition/
 issued a release: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/acta-signed-by-the-eu-lets-defeat-it-together
 petition against ACTA: http://www.avaaz.org/en/eu_save_the_internet/?cl=1538857611&v=12283
 On Eve Of Protests: Watch ACTA Debate With Key Parliament Members: http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/06/08/watch-acta-debate-with-key-parliament-members/
 German Ministry Advises Developing Countries Not To Sign ACTA: http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/05/08/german-ministry-advises-developing-countries-not-to-sign-acta/
 Anti-ACTA Protests Expected In Two Dozen Countries; Parliament Opposition Rises: http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/06/08/anti-acta-protests-expected-in-two-dozen-countries-parliament-opposition-rises/