THE UK Pirate Party has issued a call to arms to the internet industry, asking it to come together to defeat the draconian Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) before that starts killing people.
"Criticism of ACTA has often focused on the harm it will do to the Internet, but that doesn't address one of the most important issues that ACTA presents: the fact that it will kill sick people in developing countries by denying them access to affordable generic drugs - whilst doing nothing to address the issue of unsafe counterfeit medications," said Phil Hunt, the UK Pirate Party's foreign policy spokesman.
"Medecins sans Frontieres have been expressing their concerns ever since the very first drafts of the treaty were leaked, and they have reiterated their concerns at the latest draft, saying that it will have 'fatal consequences on access to medecines'."
Many of the anti-ACTA arguments have been about its impact on civil liberties, a concern that has had some impact on regulators and governments, but the issue of medicine is just as important, according to the party.
"Despite the exclusion of patents from key sections of the treaty, border seizures of generic drugs on trademark grounds would still multiply under ACTA, and excessive punishments will act as a deterrent to the production and trade in generic medicine," Hunt added.
"This should be more than enough to force governments and unions to rethink their stance on ACTA. It is time that the international community came together to deal with intellectual property openly and transparently, taking full account of the impact on developing states, innovation and civil liberties across the globe. We cannot sacrifice human lives to the interests of the rich world's IP monopolists."
This week the European Commission signalled its discomfort with ACTA and forwarded the responsibility for ruling on it to the European Court of Justice. Meanwhile, countries that earlier had been expected to ratify it have been falling like dominos in the wake of widespread public protests throughout Europe. µ