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Digital liberties group wants to shine a light on all ACTA and TAFTA discussions

Discussions must be open to all
Fri Mar 01 2013, 10:34

THERE ARE MOVES AFOOT in Sweden that could shine a light on the murky dealings that surround anti-counterfeiting trade agreements.

Linus Nordberg, a Swedish advocate and developer for Tor, and representative of the Föreningen för digitala fri- och rättigheter (DFRI), or the Association for Digital Liberties, has sent a letter to the president of the European Parliament in which he asks for clarity over ACTA treaties and a full release of documents.

The letter suggests that the parliament has delivered mixed messages about transparency and ACTA and asks for redress.

"The European Parliament has played an active role in transparency issues relating to ACTA both by demanding disclosure and by disclosing documents, but also, in some instances, by actively withholding public information," it says.

"This complexity follows as a consequence from that the European Parliament should have been immediately and fully informed at all stages of the ACTA procedure."

It adds that President Schulz has a commitment to transparency that is "duly noted and appreciated". This transparency is what the DFRI wants the parliament to show now.

"Your own commitment to transparency in ACTA has been duly noted and appreciated. We therefore ask you to keep the same high transparency standards also when it comes to the aftermath and closing of the ACTA file," it adds. "We would kindly ask for your intervention to immediately make all documents available to the public."

The INQUIRER spoke with the DFRI's Nordberg about the request, and he told us that the organisation is hoping to uncover documents that relate to ACTA but have never seen the public light of day.

"We hope to see not only the the Commissions request for an opinion on ACTA compatibility with the Treaties sent to the Court of Justice and the written observations sent by the European Parliament to the same court,"he told us. "But also other documents which we don't know of."

The timing is perhaps key. The request follows movements towards the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, or TAFTA, a joint American and European legislative initiative that US President Obama announced in his State of the Union address.

"In the longer perspective, we see this as a warm up to the negotiations about the TAFTA agreement," Nordberg said, asking, "Will the European Parliament be transparent this time?"

TAFTA is a reheated version of ACTA. The EU and the US will start talks on the free trade agreement this year. It has been brought up by both parties already, but Nordberg said that there is always room for surprises.

"[ACTA] was a wake up call for many of us in the European Union member states, that the European Parliament lacked the will or the power, whichever would be the worst I don't know, to let the people ultimately affected by the upcoming legislation learn what was at stake," he said.

The European Parliament booted ACTA last July following massive popular protests in many European countries, roundly rejecting it by a vote of 478 nays to 39 yays. µ


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