Four European parliament committees have voted against a major international treaty that aims to protect against online piracy and the trade of counterfeit goods.
The rejections are one of the latest challenges to the treaty, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). It was also the subject of large protests in Europe this year after the EU began working to pass it, with many critics saying it lacked adequate privacy protections and could hinder business innovation.
After rejecting the treaty, the Civil Liberties committee, in a statement, said ACTA doesn’t adequately protect sensitive personal information as required in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It also called many treaty provisions unclear, and that when fundamental rights are at stake, “ambiguity must be avoided.” It also called for the EU to create a new strategy to combat piracy and counterfeiting that has more respect for such rights.
The Industry committee said ACTA doesn’t balance intellectual property rights, business freedom, and protection of personal data. It also said ACTA’s approach to intellectual property ignored the specific needs of different sectors and that such uncertainty could create legal challenges for European firms. ACTA was also rejected by the Development and Legal Affairs Committees.
ACTA has been signed by the United States, 22 EU nations, Australia, Canada, Japan, and several other countries. It still needs to be ratified in six countries before it goes into effect, at which time it will be effective in those six countries. ACTA can only come into effect in the EU, however, if it is approved by the EU parliament.
The committees’ rulings, which are non-binding, will now be passed on to the EU’s International Trade Committee, the lead committee on the ACTA. The international committee will then vote on the treaty before it’s scheduled to go before the full parliament July 3rd.
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