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For once common sense has shone through and the European Parliament has rejected the controversial ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). An overwhelming 478 voters rejected the treaty with just 39 for and 165 abstentions, which means that neither the EU nor any member states can join the agreement. The result was met with smiles and applause as well as a number of representatives holding up boards that stated “Hello democracy, Goodbye ACTA”.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

This highly controversial agreement, which was yet another of Mandelson’s bright ideas (well in terms of pushing it through the EU anyway), was finally rejected because of its potential impact on civil liberties and due to the ambiguity of the agreement. From the start this agreement has been discussed in secret with little access to the terms of the agreement or the draft documents, until they were leaked that is.

Once the detail (or lack of it) became known, ACTA and its US counterpart SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) prompted international ‘black outs’ from major websites and organisations including Wikipedia.

The rejection of ACTA came as no real surprise to many as the Parliament representatives had in fact been advised to reject it by the ACTA Rapporteur, David Martin who said: “My strong recommendation is that we reject the ACTA treaty. This time the devil is in the lack of detail. A vague text is dangerous and we cannot guarantee that civil liberties will be protected.”

Is this the end of ACTA?

It’s the end for ACTA in its present form but it’s unlikely to be the last of the treaties/agreements we see that cover this topic. Counterfeiting is a huge international issue and one that needs tackling on an international scale but ACTA was poorly thought out, left too much open to expansion and abuse and its progression through to parliament was too secretive.

However, as citizens of the UK we have a further concern. Part of the reason that ACTA didn’t cause mainstream panic within the UK is because we already have Mandelson’s DEA, which covers some of the more controversial topics of ACTA, such as online copyright infringement. Whilst we may have seen the back of ACTA (in its latest incarnation at least), the DEA is still in effect, although Ofcom did recently announce that its highly controversial three strikes warning letters are not likely to commence until 2014. We will be covering this in more detail on opinion shortly…

Have your say!

What did you expect for the ACTA? Did you think it would make it through the EP vote or did you expect it to be rejected? Do you think the rejection was the right response or did you support ACTA? What do you think will happen next with regards to tackling the issue of international counterfeiting? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

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