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Acta constitutes threat to civil liberties, says Euro MP David Martin

Warwick Ashford

A second Member of the European Parliament responsible for its report on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) says he will recommend the agreement be rejected.

David Martin MEP stepped in to the role after MEP Kader Arif resigned from the Acta reporting committee.

Kader Arif condemned the process of secret talks and described the negotiations as a "masquerade".

Now David Martin has said he does not believe the treaty would tackle online piracy effectively. He said he will recommend the European parliament reject Acta, according to the Telegraph.

However, Martin said the Acta debate – which involved riots in some capitals – had become “unnecessarily hysterical”. He claimed the Acta treaty “never seriously proposed” a divisive “three strikes and you’re out” policy of disconnecting pirates from the web.

Martin said there was a case for stronger intellectual property defence, but with negotiations done behind closed doors, the resultant Acta text had insufficient detail.

"The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties," Martin said in a written recommendation to the European Parliament, the BBC reports.

"Given the vagueness of certain aspects of the text and the uncertainty over its interpretation, the European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for citizens' rights in the future under Acta," Martin wrote.

Acta is aimed at standardising international copyright protection measures and curbing the trade of counterfeit goods, including copyrighted material online.

However, critics say that Acta will stifle freedom of expression on the internet. It has been likened to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa).

The Acta agreement has been signed by 22 EU members, including the UK, but is yet to be ratified by the European Parliament.

The EC has asked the European Court of Justice to rule on Acta's legality and a debate on the EU's adoption of Acta is expected to take place in June.

If Acta is rejected, it is expected that the EC will soon propose new directives.


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