[A2k] Wikileaks & ACTA

Judit Rius Sanjuan judit.rius at keionline.org
Thu Dec 23 11:55:24 PST 2010

From the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/22/you-ask-we-search-december-22

• Numerous tweets requested information on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) is very much a WikiLeaks story. The site published a leaked discussion paper from the closed-door negotiations in July 2008 when the secrecy surrounding the proposals on piracy and other intellectual property issues from the US, Japan, EU, Canada and some others (but not China) meant very little was known of it.

So what do the cables say? Well, that the lack of transparency was a problem for some of the participants, too. A November 2008 cable from the Rome embassy reports that Fabrizio Mazza, head of the intellectual property office in the Italian foreign ministry, told US diplomats that the level of confidentiality attached to the negotiations made it "impossible for member states to conduct necessary consultations with IPR [intellectual property rights] stakeholders and legislatures". The cable stated that the "level of confidentiality in these Acta negotiations has been set at a higher level than is customary for non-security agreements".

A cable a year later from the Stockholm embassy detailed how the problems negotiators had with secrecy were becoming an issue for politicians, too.

Swedish media and the usual blogger-circles have expressed similar concerns about the on-going Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) negotiations as we have seen in many other countries, mostly focusing on the secrecy and the internet chapter with its reported demands for graduated response systems. As the Swedish justice ministry has negotiating for the EU during the second half of this year, this has led to domestic criticism of the government. Media reporting has forced the Swedish government to go public saying that Sweden will not agree to Acta provisions requiring revised Swedish laws.

According to the cable, the Swede negotiating for the EU, Stefan Johansson, told US diplomats that "the refusal to make Acta documents public has been an excellent political tool around which to build speculation about the political intent behind the negotiations". It adds that Johansson told them there was strong support within the negotiating group that a negotiated text "must be made public while there is still scope to influence the final outcome" while the European commission was concerned that while the US government had consulted with US industry, it had not been able to do the same.

A first public draft of the Acta was published in April this year, with a final version following in November. 
Simon Jeffery

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