THE UNITED KINGDOM along with 21 other European Union (EU) member states has signed the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Japan.
ACTA had already been signed by eight countries including the US on 1 October 2011, however the EU states waited until today to head over to Japan to put their signatures on the dotted line. The controversial agreement has been widely opposed by groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Free Software Foundation, with claims that ACTA will trample on civil rights.
Since ACTA was first leaked in 2008, the proposed legislation has sparked controversy, though in recent months the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act in the US have been getting more attention. At the heart of ACTA is the requirement for internet service providers (ISPs) to collect information on their users in order to service the demands of copyright holders.
ACTA's difficult birth was made all the more controversial thanks to repeated denials of requests for the draft documents to be made public. Technology firms including Google, Intel and Dell saw copies of the draft but signed non-disclosure agreements to do so.
The European Parliament will be debating ACTA and activists are urging people to contact their MEPs putting forward arguments opposing ACTA. The European Parliament and each of the member states must approve ACTA before it goes into effect in the EU. µ