THE CONTROVERSIAL Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) represents a severe threat to human rights, according to the European Union (EU) Green party.
The ACTA treaty hands over copyright policing to media firms and rights holders, organisations that are unlikely to act responsibly or mete out light punishments. Under the agreement the rights holders will be able to carry out their own investigations and set their own penalties. A report (pdf) presented by the Greens in the European parliament takes offence at those provisions of the treaty.
Douwe Korff, a professor of international law at London Metropolitan University and Ian Brown, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford produced the report and it was delivered in the European parliament by Green MEP Jan Phillip Albrecht.
"As the study points out, encouraging the 'cooperation' between internet providers and the content industry amounts to privatised policing, violating the rule of law and the right to fair judicial process," said Albrecht.
"ACTA also allows for the monitoring of internet users without initial suspicion, the handing over of their personal data to rights holders on the basis of mere claims and the transfer of this data even to countries without adequate data protection, all of which is in clear conflict with legal guarantees of fundamental rights in the EU."
The agreement, which was signed off by early adopters in Japan earlier this month but is still waiting for European approval, is much too weighted in the favour of the media firms and is unbending and inflexible, argued the dissenters.
"The agreement does not contain 'fair use' clauses or exceptions for trivial or minimal infringements. It therefore tilts the balance - both in terms of substance and of process - unfairly in favour of rights holders and against users and citizens," added MEP Albrecht.
Albrecht recommended that the European parliament hand over the decision on ACTA to the European Court of Justice, and added that the Green Party would like to see it rejected. µ