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 British Conservative MEP,  Syed Kamall,  is asking the European Commission to confirm or deny in writing the existence of a footnote in ACTA, that would have mandated 3-strikes measures to disconnect users from the Internet. It looks like a banal incident in the ongoing knock-about between the European Commission and the Parliament over ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement). But the question  highlights the ridiculousness of the Commission trying to hide the real intent of ACTA, and in doing so, being caught in its own trap.

The footnote which is the subject of the question was in an early version of ACTA, and later deleted. The footnote  mentions a policy that provides for “the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscriptions and accounts in the service provider’s systems or network of repeat infringers.

The footnote has been read by everyone who has analysed the leaked ACTA texts. It is blindingly obvious that the footnote  refers to 3-strikes.

 At public meetings, DG Trade has insisted that there never was any 3-strikes in ACTA. In  a DG Trade report of a meeting in March 2011, it states “ it is important to clarify that no such rules were ever proposed by any of the parties involved in the ACTA negotiations”.

That statement forms the basis of  Mr Kamall’s question. His point is very pertinent.

 If “no such rules were ever proposed”, how did that footnote get there?  And assuming we are correct  that it is there, then it is not true to say that 3-strikes was never proposed.

 It is patently stupid of DG Trade to maintain its mendacious  line.  All it is doing it ratcheting up the ill-feeling against the Commission.

 Public anger against ACTA has reached a tipping point this month. If  the European Commission were to lie in writing to the Parliament, that would be  a grave matter. Will DG Trade dare to tell the truth?

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Question to the European Commission from MEP Syed Kamall, 31 January 2012 

I have been contacted by a civil society organisation which tells me that according to the Commission’s summary of its ‘Civil Society Meeting’ on 25 March 2011, ‘many rumours have circulated on “three strikes” measures and other measures restricting the access to internet. It is important to clarify that no such rules were ever proposed by any of the parties involved in the ACTA negotiations.’[1]

The civil society organisation claims that this assertion from the Commission directly contradicts an alleged leak of the digital chapter of ACTA (originally published in March 2010 and reproduced in

a European Parliament briefing document[1]), which contains a footnote which proposed disconnection of (presumably ‘alleged’) repeat infringers as ‘an example of such a policy’. The full text of the footnote was:

‘[a]n example of such a policy is providing for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscriptions and accounts in the service provider’s systems or network of repeat infringers’.

1.    Can the Commission either confirm or deny the existence of that footnote in the preparatory works of ACTA?

2.    If it confirms the existence of that footnote, can the Commission point to subsequent preparatory work that confirms that disconnection of end users is not an example of the type or severity of punishment that should be imposed in the proposed private law enforcement foreseen by ACTA? “

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is  a trainer & consultant on Internet governance policy, published author& Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and beyond.  She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and now Brexit). Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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