WE THOUGHT IT WAS DEAD, but ACTA was only wounded, and now it is sneaking back into the European Union.
Cunning, or should that be dastardly, bodies in Europe and Canada have taken the worst elements of the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement and snuck them into another trade treaty, this time called CETA.
CETA has been exposed in leaked documents, which show the European Union engaged in talks about resurrecting ACTA in a European and Canadian foot on consumers' necks treaty.
Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who uncovered the documents and exposed them on his blog, says that CETA is a way for ACTA backers to get the sort of agreements that they wanted with that agreement, but without all the attention.
"The EU plans to use the Canada - EU Trade Agreement (CETA), which is nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the ACTA provisions," he warned.
"According to the leaked document, dated February 2012, Canada and the EU have already agreed to incorporate many of the ACTA enforcement provisions into CETA, including the rules on general obligations on enforcement, preserving evidence, damages, injunctions, and border measure rules."
He adds that the agreement is so aware of its roots that it even references ACTA, its uglier, bigger brother. Worse, Geist says that talks are well advanced, adding that so far CETA has not suffered too much opposition.
Some of the more controversial elements of the agreement, which as per usual is shrouded in secrecy, have been removed though, according to John Clancy, the EU Spokesperson for Trade and for EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
Responding to questions about the similarities between the agreements on Twitter, Clancy said that that murkiness had been dispelled and that contentious parts, or perhaps the most contentious parts, have already been nixed.
"ACTA internet articles 27.3 and 27.4 are not part of current CETA text. The leaked text is from Feb and has changed," he said, adding that some of the key criticisms of the former had been excised.
The UK Pirate Party cautioned the European Commission against trying to push CETA through the Parliament and accused it of just dressing ACTA up in a new skirt.
"Recently leaked documents show that the EU plans to use CETA, an agreement nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the ACTA provisions. Something we have feared likely. Whether these provisions were inserted because the commission thought ACTA would pass is immaterial, they should be removed," said Loz Kaye, leader of the UK party.
"The crowbarring of ACTA type provisions in to the Canada - EU Trade Agreement shows yet again a willful ignoring of the democratic process. There are legitimate concerns about the enforcement, damages and border control obligations in CETA. The EU and international bodies must start to the learn the lessons of the ACTA debacle, and truly engage with citizens." µ
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