The Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that was discussed this week in a secret meeting in Switzerland, threatens fundamental principles of European telecoms law, in particular the ‘mere conduit' provision, according to Europe's leading telecommunications companies. It's an ‘outside-in' change to EU law by international treaty, they say.
An alliance of European telecoms groups has taken an unusually strong stand against ACTA. The alliance is led by the economically powerful ETNO, whose members include Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom and BT, and ETNO is joined by European associations of ISPs, mobile operators, e-commerce and Internet companies, and cable companies.
In a joint statement, they say that ACTA could jeopardise key provisions in the acquis communitaire including the important mere conduit principle which underpins the Internet in Europe. They advise that ACTA contains a series of provisions which contradict the EU acquis, and which would also hinderthe development of new online services and contradict the objectives for the European Digital Agenda.
The European telecoms and technology companies are concerned that EU law will be changed by an ‘outside-in' manoeuvre of non-elected administrators, without proper democratic scrutiny. These legal changes will have profound and detrimental effects on their businesses.
The joint statement calls for the European Parliament to have more than just transparency. They want to see the Parliament have full democratic oversight of new legislation by until the ACTA negotiations are complete.
The telecoms companies say that the draft liability provisions in the ACTA Internet chapter are in contradiction with the E-Commerce Directive. ACTA places policy goals for copyright and IPR ahead of the ‘mere conduit' principle. In this way, ‘mere conduit' could be eroded, and ACTA stands to undermine the functioning of the Information Society (which is EU jargon for the Internet).
The telcos also assert that criminal sanctions provisions in ACTA go beyond the existing EU legal framework, and that privacy of EU citizens is put at risk
Read the full statement on ACTA from ETNO, Euro-ISPA, GSM Association, EDIMA, and Cable Europe.
It's interesting to compare the telco comments with the answers received by a civil society group which met with the ACTA negotiators this week. The negotiators continue to deny that there will be any effect on either the EU aquis or fundamental rights.
ACTA talks concluded Thursda y -next meeting in US - no date or location
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 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) Europe's telcos oppose 'outside - in' ACTA threat http://www.iptegrity.com 2 July 2010