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

At 331 to 294 it was close, but the EPP and ECR (UK Conservatives) between them have backed the rights-holder industries and failed citizens.

Within the past  hour, in a very tense vote, the European Parliament has adopted a weak and industry-favourable resolution, which supports the cover-ups that we have seen over ACTA and fails to address the issue within it.  This has happened despite the efforts and hard work of many MEPs who oppose ACTA to obtain a stronger resolution. 

The European Parliament was voting on two alternative

resolutions concerning the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement): a  joint resolution, proposed by the Socialists, Liberals, Greens and Left groups, and an alternative resolution proposed by the EPP and ECR groups.


The joint resolution  was rejected  by 322 votes against. It was evident that the Parliament is closely split. All of the votes were recorded electronically (which is only done if requested) and many of the clauses were subject to a split vote, which means there was disagreement at a very close level of detail.


After the Joint Resolution, the EPP/ECR resolution was carried, but again, the voting was close, and less than 40 votes determined the result.


What does this mean? The vote is a preliminary to a process where the Parliament will be asked to give its consent to ACTA. What it demonstrates is how lobbyists for large industries have captured votes from MEPs and the two large party groups - EPP and ECR (including UK Conservatives).


The EPP/ECR resolution accepts the industry viewpoint on the ‘problem' of  peer-to-peer filesharing, which is the main target of the ACTA Internet measures. The resolution accepts the Commissions blatantly disingenuous position regarding ACTA and the EU acquis communitaire.


The joint resolution of the other groups would have enabled the European Parliament to demonstrate that it is not a poodle to the Commission, and that it will utilise its powers to defend the wider interests of citizens.


Here are some key clauses from the EPP/ECR Resolution which make it very clear that the EPP and ECR are supporting the rights-holders and not citizens: 

A. whereas the fight against counterfeiting represents a key element in the EU political strategy with a view to ensuring justice, a level playing field for our producers, the maintenance of employment for citizens and respect for the rule of law,

B. whereas, in order to be more effective, the fight against counterfeiting – which is a worldwide phenomenon – requires stronger international cooperation among the major world players,  

D. whereas, as the Commission has repeatedly stated, ACTA is concerned solely with enforcement measures and does not include provisions modifying the substantive intellectual property rights (IPR) law of the EU or the other ACTA parties, but rather establishes, for the first time, a comprehensive international framework to assist the parties in their efforts to combat IPR infringements effectively, and it does not therefore imply any change to the acquis communautaire,

E. whereas, in many areas, including provisions for the digital sector and the scope of compulsory border measures, ACTA goes beyond the scope of TRIPS and therefore affords right-holders better protection,  

13. Welcomes the fact that ACTA membership is not exclusive and that additional developing and emerging countries may join, thus promoting widespread IPR protection and enhancing the fight against counterfeiting worldwide; considers that, in the future, ACTA could potentially attain a multilateral level;  


 And also how it covers up  - the 'Commission's repeated statements' should not be taken to imply that the Commission is telling the truth.

4. Welcomes the Commission’s repeated statements that enforcement of the ACTA provisions – especially those on copyright enforcement procedures in the digital environment – will be fully in line with the acquis communautaire and that neither personal searches nor the so-called ‘three strikes’ procedure will be introduced by this agreement; points out that no ACTA signatory, and particularly not the EU, may be mandated by the agreement to introduce a ‘three strikes’ or similar regime;  


Based on the previous record of the UK Conservatives in the European Parliament, this wording is deceptive. ACTA will open the door to some form of 3-strikes and it is bad news for Internet users in Europe and elsewhere.  


The important question now, is whether this vote does signal an impending acceptance of ACTA by the European Parliament, or whether the Parliament will recall its previous opposition to the measures entailed in ACTA - this point is highlighted by La Quadrature du Net . 

 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) , European Parliament fails citizens over ACTA 24  November 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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