Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

The ACTA Internet chapter is even more grotesque than anticipated. It takes a 360 degree sweep across all possibilities  for enforcement of copyright and trade marks. It has onerous obligations not just for  ISPs but for web hosts and server operators. The Internet as we know it is definitely under threat.


The latest leak from the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) indicates that EU and US  negotiators are being somewhat sparse with the truth when they claim there is no 3-strikes in ACTA.  It is clear from the document that this is a treaty about copyright enforcement and that it attacks not only Internet users, but web hosts and  the providers of the networks themselves. 


The ACTA Internet Chapter includes the following:

- mandates ISPs to be liable for copyright enforcement. They will only have a legal defence if they can prove they have policies in place to police their networks for copyright enforcement, such as a system of terminating the access of 'repeat infringers'.  This is written in such a way that the negotiators can falsely claim that they are not mandating a graduated response system. The fact is that they will mandate such onerous liability onto the ISPs, and recommend a policy that is by any other name, graduated response or 3-strikes. It will be  the only way the ISP can escape being sued by rights-holder interests.

-anyone who creates a technological method of working around the enforcement measures can be prosected, potentially incurring criminal sanctions.  It is uncertain what this might include in the network context (perhaps the lawyers can help here?) . 

- applies to trade marks, as well as all forms of copyright. That means it attacks eBay and  ecommerce businesses, as well as peer-to-peer filesharing. 

- the sanctions  will be applied  to businesses as well as individual users (footnote 3). 

- a very wide definition of 'online service provider' sweeps in potentially any website, any web hosts, anyone operating a hosting centre, as well as the ISPs provising end-user access. 


The EU's Trade (INTA) committee will be discussing ACTA this Tuesday. 


Read the leaked ACTA chapter   (actually, it's only a section of it, but it does contain these onerous provisions). 

Further analysis from Michael Geist




This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) ACTA to sweep the 'Net clean: latest lea, k 21  February 2010  


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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