The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is facing a growing backlash in Europe. On 31 May, all three committees of the European Parliament advising the International Trade Committee recommended rejecting the deal.
While the committees’ recommendations are not binding, they nevertheless put further pressure on the EU and its member states to reconsider ratification of ACTA. MEPs on the Civil Liberties Committee concluded that ACTA fails to respect privacy rights and the full protection of sensitive personal information. The Industry Committee argued the agreement does not properly balance the rights and freedoms of the different stakeholders affected by ACTA. The Legal Affairs Committee also voted against approval of the controversial Agreement. The opposition of a growing number of Members of the European Parliament against ACTA is part of a broader backlash against secretive intellectual property agreements that are incorporated into broad trade agreements and give priority to intellectual property enforcement over fundamental rights. The Dutch Parliament recently voted against ratifying ACTA, a move that some experts say could effectively spell the end of the agreement in Europe. ACTA has been widely criticized for granting authorities broad new powers to monitor and enforce enhanced copyright and patent protections, potentially restricting access to information. Teachers and students have been concerned about the agreement’s potential impact on their ability to access information for educational and research purposes. A final vote in the European Parliament on the agreement is expected in July.