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ACTA: A Global Threat to Freedoms (Open Letter)

Paris, December 10th 2009 - A worldwide coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations, consumers unions and online service providers associations publish an open letter to the European institutions regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently under negotiation. They call on the European Parliament and the EU negotiators to oppose any provision int the multilateral agreement that would undermine the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens in Europe and across the world.

By December 17th, 2009, European negotiators will submit their position regarding the proposal put forward by the U.S Trade Representative for the Internet chapter of the ACTA. It is now time for the European Union to firmly oppose the dangerous measures secretly being negotiated. They cover not only "three strikes" schemes, but also include Internet service providers liability that would result in Internet filtering, and dispositions undermining interoperability and usability of digitial music and films.

The first signatories of the open letter include: Consumers International (world federation of 220 consumer groups in 115 countries), EDRi (27 European civil rights and privacy NGOs), the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ASIC (French trade association for web2.0 companies), the Free Knowledge Institute (FKI) and civil liberties organizations from all around Europe (9 Member States so far...). The letter is open for signature by other organizations.

ACTA: A Global Threat to Freedoms

open letter

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a broad intergovernmental agreement under negotiation ranging from the key social issue of access to medicine[1] to criminal Internet regulation. We fear it could seriously hinder European innovation in the digital single market while undermining fundamental rights and democracy at large.

The negotiation process itself raises important questions of transparency and due democratic process, given that the content of the draft agreement has been kept secret for more than 18 months, although some details about the proposals recently leaked to the public. More worrying still, while the European Parliament has been denied access to the documents, US industry has been granted access to them, albeit only after signing non-disclosure agreements.

A recent analysis by the European Commission of the ACTA Internet chapter[2] proves that the topics under discussion go far beyond the current body of EU law. Most importantly, the Commission's analysis confirms that the current draft of ACTA would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens, most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy. These are very much at risk, since the current draft pushes for the implementation of three-strikes schemes and content filtering policies by seeking to impose civil and criminal liability on technical intermediaries such as internet service providers. The text would also radically erode the exercise of interoperability that is essential for both consumer rights and competitiveness.

Consequently, we urge the Parliament to call on European negotiators to establish transparency in the negotiation process and publish the draft agreement, and not to accept any proposal which would undermine citizens' rights and freedoms. Furthermore, we urge the Parliament to make an unequivocal statement to the Commission and Council that any agreement which does not respect these core principles would force the Parliament to reject the entire text.


[1] See: http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2009-07-15/criminalize-generic-medicines-hurt-poor-countries

[2] See: http://sharemydoc.org/files/philip/ec_analysis_of_acta_internet_chapter.pdf

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The first signatories of this letter are (in alphabetical order):

AK DATEN E.V. - Germany
AK DATEN is a NGO focussed on civil rights, especially on informational self-determination, privacy and freedom of information. We're co-founder of the "Friedrich Schüler Library and Archive for the european civil rights movement".
April - France
April is the main French advocacy association devoted to promote and protect Free/Libre Software
ASIC - France
L'Association des Services Internet Communautaires is a trade association for web2.0 companies in France. Their members include Dailymotion, Google, eBay, Yahoo, Microsoft and Wikipedia.
Asociación de Internautas - Spain
Association working for the rights of electronic communications users.
Bits of Freedom - The Netherlands
Bits of Freedom defends digital civil rights, such as privacy on the Internet and online freedom of speech.
Chaos Computer Club (CCC) - Germany
Europe's largest hacker group, founded in 1981.
Constant vzw - Belgium
Association for arts and media
Consumers International - International
Consumers International (CI) is the only independent global campaigning voice for consumers. With over 220 member organisations in 115 countries, we are building a powerful international consumer movement to help protect and empower consumers everywhere.
dyne.org - Intenational
Since 2000 dyne hosts an atelier for digital artisans. We design software and ideas for the arts, sharing a grassroot access to technology, education and freedom.
EDRi - Europe
European Digital Rights defends civil rights in the information society
Electronic Frontier Finland - Finland
Electronic Frontier Finland has been set up to defend the citizens' electronic rights.
Electronic Frontier Foundation - International
EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world.
Exgae - Spain
La primera asesoría legal especializada en librar a los ciudadanos de los abusos de las entidades de gestión y de la industría cultural. 24 identidades, entre asociaciones y ciudadanos, están detrás de esta iniciativa que comienza respaldada por casi 8000 personas.
Framasoft - France
Endorsed by a network of cooperative websites, Framasoft's goal is the dissemination and the promotion of the Free culture in general and of Free softwares specifically. Framasoft is an open door for the larger audience toward an assisted discovery of the "Free software world" : Free software and it's frame of mind, the Free culture and also digital liberties.
Free Knowledge Institute - Europe
The Free Knowledge Institute (FKI) is a non-profit organisation that fosters the free exchange of knowledge in all areas of society.
Free Software Foundation - International
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a donor supported charity founded in 1985 and based in Boston, MA, USA. The FSF has a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom and to defend the rights of all free software users.
French Data Network - France
FDN is the oldest Internet access provider in France. It is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization.
Fundació privada per la Xarxa Lliure, Oberta i neutral - Spain
guifi.net is an open, free and neutral network built through a peer to peer, agreement where everyone can join. It has about 8,500 working nodes across 12,000 kms of network links providing self service and low cost broadband access, including rural areas and people with risk of exclusion.
Gleducar - Argentina
NGO that promotes freedom in education and access to knowledge supporting Free Technologies and distributed networks
Hacktivistas - Spain
An open technology enthusiasts collective focusing on free culture, free society and privacy.
Internati0nal Association of IT Lawyers (IAITL) - Denmark
The International Association of IT Lawyers (IAITL) is an international association constituted primarily of lawyers and legal practitioners who have an interest in Information Technology law. The International Association of IT Lawyers seeks to promote study and research in Computer Law through international conferences, networking, publication of member
Knowledge Ecology International - International
Attending and mending the knowledge ecosystem
La Quadrature du Net - France
La Quadrature du Net is a citizen group informing about legislative projects menacing civil liberties as well as economic and social development in the digital age.
netzpolitik.org - Germany
netzpolitik.org is a blog and campaigning-plaatform for digital rights.
Open Rights Group - United Kingdom
The Open Rights Group exists to preserve and promote UK and EU citizens rights in the digital age.
Open Standards Alliance - Hungary
The Open Standards Alliance is a broad coalition of industry, public service, government, research organizations and private individuals focused on establishing fair and open markets predominantly in the Hungarian governmental and public service sectors.
Opendata Network - Germany
German based NGO to promote open access, open data, open government, transparency and participation.
OW2 Consortium - International
OW2 is an independent industry consortium dedicated to developing open source code infrastructure (middleware and generic applications) and to fostering a vibrant community and business ecosystem. OW2 federates more than one hundred organizations and 6000 IT Professionals in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Public Knowledge - United States
Public Knowledge is a non-profit public interest organization devoted to protecting citizens’ rights in the emerging digital information culture and focused on the intersection of intellectual property, and technology. Public Knowledge seeks to guard the rights of consumers, innovators, and creators at all layers of our culture through legislative, administrative, grass-roots efforts, and legal efforts, including regular participation in copyright cases that threaten consumers, trade, and innovation.
Scambio Etico - Italy
A grassroots movement to defend citizens' rights on the Internet, promote access to knowledge and preserve Net Neutrality.
The Julia Group (Juliagruppen) - Sweden
The Julia group is a non profit organisation working for a free and open internet.
The WeReBuild clusters - Europe
We Rebuild is a decentralized cluster of net activists who have joined forces to collaborate on issues concerning access to a free Internet without intrusive surveillance.
U.S. PIRG - USA
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.