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EP Committees to vote on ACTA next week

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After months of machinations, delays and politics, it appears that there is no more scope for delay and all four of the Committees giving Opinions on ACTA will finally vote next week. This will be a “make or break” moment for ACTA, because a failure to pass texts calling for ACTA’s rejection would create a sudden momentum for the Agreement – building on the many ill-advised (or carefully planned) statements that ACTA is “dead”.
 
 Even though the position of several key political groups is clear, the attraction of not taking a decision has proven too much for some individual MEPs. Danish Liberal MEP Jens Rhode tabled (and then withdrew his signature from) an amendment in the Industry Committee draft Opinion, which would have meant that the Committee would not issue a recommendation on whether to support or reject ACTA. The Liberal (ALDE) Group has decided to reject ACTA. Despite this, a minority of Liberals in the Civil Liberties Committee have proposed postponing a decision on ACTA until after the ruling of the European Court of Justice (in about 18 months) and have even tabled an amendment referring to the protection of “due process” in ACTA – even though there is no such provision in the text!
 
 The conservative EPP group (the largest in the Parliament) is searching for an impossible middle ground between rejecting and supporting ACTA. They have been tabling amendments asking for clarifications from the Commission regarding the unclear definition of “commercial scale” and clarifications regarding privatised enforcement through Internet providers. What they have so far failed to understand is that many of the companies that will be “encouraged” to enforce intellectual property law in ACTA are not European companies. If Google is already enforcing US law in Europe (through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for example), and the Commission can do nothing to stop this, how can the Commission “clarify” or limit what Microsoft, Verisign, Paypal etc. will do when they are “encouraged” by the US government to police the web on a global level? They cannot.
 
 It is therefore crucial for all concerned citizens and organisations to contact the Parliamentarians in order to support the rejection of ACTA in all four Committees.
 
 The final committee vote in the International Trade committee is scheduled to take place on 21 June, with a final Parliament vote due on 3 July.
 
 For more information, see EDRi’s “Stop ACTA” campaign page: http://edri.org/stopacta

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