#WriteToThem reply from an #MEP regarding #ACTA #EP #EU

This is a reply I just recieved from Nick Griffin, MEP (and leader of the [imv] revolting UK BNP Party).  In this case it seems my enemies’ enemy is my friend, hmmmm.

The first part I have highlighted in bold indicates that there was no transparency in the negotiations, hence the need for “WD12”. This is contrary to the propaganda Commissioner Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU), Commissioner Viviane Reding (@VivianeRedingEU), and Commissioner Karel De #Gucht have been spouting, together with their spokespersons, Ryan Heath (@ECspokesRyan) and John Clancy (@EUJohnClancy).

At least Mr Nick Griffin has said he will vote AGAINST #ACTA in it’s current form, for that I salute him, just this once.

Dear Mr xxxxxxxx

Thank you for your email regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

Mr Griffin has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.

He shares your concerns that the scope of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is too broad and the proposed new enforcement measures draconian. In the initial stages, because ACTA was designated as a “trade treaty” there was also a disturbing scarcity of information about the content of the treaty and a total lack of transparency in the negotiation process. This rendered informed consultation impossible and undermined democratic debate.
It was also evident that ACTA was being rushed through without due consideration being given to the significant impact it will have on individuals’ rights to privacy. Alarmed at the potential for this legislation to erode civil liberties and freedom of speech, Mr Griffin gave his support to European Parliament Written Declaration 12/2010 (WD 12) “on the lack of a transparent process for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and potentially objectionable content.”

The Written Declaration called on European Union negotiators to ensure that ACTA does not weaken European citizens’ fundamental rights to freedom of expression, privacy and due process; and that it will not require Internet intermediaries to act as copyright police at the behest of the entertainment industry. WD 12 also requested that EU negotiators make the ACTA negotiation texts public.

In what turned out to be a rather short-lived victory for democracy and transparency, Written Declaration 12/2010 won the required number of MEP signatures and was adopted as the European Parliament’s official position on ACTA on 9th September 2010. While the written declaration is not binding on the European Parliament, its adoption by a clear majority sent an important political signal to EU ACTA negotiators.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was subsequently put before the European Parliament on 24th November 2010, for an initial vote in a procedure to ratify or reject the treaty. Nick Griffin voted against ACTA, pointing out that, “the amount of power being demanded would be misused by liberal totalitarian politicians and their Big Business friends. There is no need to make a treaty concerning copyright infringement because there is already adequate protection of copyright in the TRIPS agreement and the Berne Convention. The ACTA treaty tries to codify how infringements are to be dealt with in national law. As international treaties are notoriously hard to change, this will remove the flexibility of the legal system at a time when technology is very rapidly changing the environment in which copyright laws have to operate. It would be a gross error to further fossilise copyright law at this point in time.”

Unfortunately, for the first time in many rounds of negotiations, the pro-ACTA lobby won the day. A majority of MEPs in the European Parliament demonstrated the fickle nature of “democratic” politics and their evident lack of commitment to maintaining individual civil liberties, by ratifying the draft wording of the Agreement.

ACTA took a further step towards adoption at the end of January 2012 when the UK and twenty one other European Union member states signed the Agreement. Although some of the more explicit threats to freedom of expression have been toned-down in the final version, the Agreement still poses a significant threat to civil liberties. Under the Lisbon Treaty, however, the European Parliament now has the power to reject legislation from the Commission, so ACTA will not become EU law unless a majority of MEPs vote in favour of adoption when it is presented to the European Parliament in mid-June, later this year.

On an optimistic note, some encouragement that the European Parliament will, when it comes down to the wire, opt to defend the rights of the individual against the unrestrained might of Big Business may be drawn from the defeat of similar draconian legislation in the US earlier this month. A co-ordinated internet blackout protest by thousands of websites forced the US Congress to withdraw two bills – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) – which would have sanctioned internet censorship and excessive enforcement practices. The resignation last week (27th January) of the MEP responsible for presenting ACTA to the European Parliament and his denunciation of the entire negotiation process as “a charade” should also galvanise those MEPs who voted to ratify ACTA last year into a re-think on their position.

Nick Griffin remains firm in his belief that the individual’s right to privacy and freedom of expression must be protected. He will, therefore, vote to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement when it is debated in the European Parliament in June and will lobby other MEPs to do the same.

Kind regards

Tina Wingfield
Constituency Manager
For Nick Griffin, MEP

For the record, these are the other replies I have thus far recieved:

Dear Mr xxxxxxxx

Thank you for your email to Arlene McCarthy MEP, regarding the Anti
Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The North West Labour MEPs divide the region geographically. I see you have
also written to Ms McCarthy’s colleague, Brian Simpson MEP and he is the
member of the North West Labour Group of MEPs who has responsibility for
your area.

I am sure he will be in touch with you soon on behalf of the North West
Labour MEPs.

Thank you for contacting Arlene McCarthy MEP

Yours sincerely

Rachael Tatlock
Personal Assistant to Arlene McCarthy MEP

Dear xxxxx xxxxxx,

Thank you for your recent e-mail about the Anti Counterfeiting Trade
Agreement (ACTA) between the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan,
Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the US. I am
replying on behalf of my Labour MEP colleague, Arlene McCarthy, to whom you
have also written on this matter.

As you may already be aware, the European Parliament has a formal role in
the decision-making process on this agreement. The negotiations concluded in
November 2010 and each negotiating party is now in the process of ratifying
and signing the agreement. In the EU this requires agreement from the
Council of Ministers, which is made up of the 27 member states, and the
European Parliament. On Thursday 26th January 2012, twenty two member
states, including the UK, signed the agreement.

The next stage is for the European Parliament to draft a report recommending
whether or not Parliament should give its approval to ACTA. This work will
be carried out by the International Trade Committee and is expected to begin
very shortly. Parliament’s political leverage over the European Commission
has therefore been substantial, in view of the fact that the agreement
cannot be ratified without the approval of MEPs.

In addition to its legislative role, Parliament monitored the negotiations
throughout the eleven rounds and adopted resolutions highlighting its
priorities to the Commission. In March 2010 my colleague David Martin MEP,
who leads for the Labour side on International Trade, co-authored a
resolution which was subsequently adopted by Parliament. Some months later
in November 2010, following the release of the draft text, the Parliament
again adopted a resolution.

We proposed and successfully incorporated several points on transparency and
civil liberties into these resolutions. Firstly, we made it clear that the
European Commission, in its role as the EU’s negotiator in ACTA, needed to
press the other participants to open up the negotiations to public scrutiny
by publishing a draft negotiating text.

Secondly, we stressed that ACTA must target only commercial and not
individual counterfeiters. In our opinion the need to address serious
counterfeiting should not lead to any erosion of civil liberties. As far as
my Labour colleagues and I are concerned, we object to any ‘three strike’
rule that gives internet service providers the right to suspend the internet
connection of copyright infringers after two warnings. Equally, we do not
support so-called ‘border measures’ that allow national customs officials to
search travellers’ iPods or laptops for illegally downloaded files.

Finally, we made clear that ACTA should not extend beyond the European
Community ‘acquis’ or, in other words, no new intellectual property
legislation should be created as a result. The EU is a signatory to various
international agreements on intellectual property such as the World Trade
Organisation’s Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights
(TRIPS). It is important for Labour MEPs that ACTA is consistent with TRIPS
and other existing agreements on intellectual property.

The full resolutions adopted by the Parliament can be viewed online by
following these links: ACTA Plenary Resolution 10 March 2010  and ACTA
Plenary Resolution 24 November 2010. You can also watch the debate, in which
my colleague David Martin spoke, at: ACTA Plenary debate 9 March 2010. The
final text of the Agreement is available at: Final ACTA text.

Labour MEPs share the frustrations of many constituents, who believe the
negotiations should have been conducted in a more transparent manner. The
European Parliament put significant pressure on the European Commission
during the negotiations to increase transparency. The Commission was
successful in persuading other ACTA negotiating partners to release a
consolidated negotiating text. While Parliament continued to call for the
further release of all negotiating texts with individual country positions,
we were disappointed that a further opening up of the negotiations could not
be agreed by all parties.

You can rest assured that the Parliament’s commitment to transparency also
applies to our consideration of the ACTA agreement in the International
Trade Committee. Once the analysis and discussions in Parliament begin,
debates and considerations of the text will be fully open to the public and
will be streamed live on the European Parliament website. In the meantime,
you should also know that my colleagues and I will analyse the text of the
agreement very carefully before the European Parliament consent vote to
ensure our priorities in civil liberties, intellectual property legislation
and TRIPS compatibility are well-protected.

I hope you will find this helpful.

Best wishes,

Brian Simpson MEP

Dear Mr xxxxxx

Thank you for your email to Arlene McCarthy MEP, regarding the Anti
Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The North West Labour MEPs divide the region geographically. I see you have
also written to Ms McCarthy’s colleague, Brian Simpson MEP and he is the
member of the North West Labour Group of MEPs who has responsibility for
your area.

I am sure he will be in touch with you soon on behalf of the North West
Labour MEPs.

Thank you for contacting Arlene McCarthy MEP

Yours sincerely

Rachael Tatlock
Personal Assistant to Arlene McCarthy MEP

I will add more replies to this thread as and when they arrive.

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