Today Bulgarian and Dutch officials announced their withdrawal of support for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, better known as ACTA. The move comes in response to massive protests that took place in almost 200 European cities this past weekend. Other European nations, including Poland and Germany, have also cooled on their support for ACTA, as officials are hesitant to move forward with ratification without further studying the impact on Internet privacy that could result from the treaty’s enactment.
Protestors across the world, including the group Anonymous, have decried ACTA as an even more powerful means to shutdown the Internet than the United States SOPA/PIPA legislation that generated a firestorm of controversy last month, leading to its eventual withdrawal from Congress. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ACTA would not only allow for foreign e-commerce sites to easily shutdown its competitors in the U.S., it would also grant the government the ability to track and record your Internet activity through a mechanism called the Universal Internet ID. Most shockingly, ACTA has been around since 2006, when it was originally written by U.S. and Japanese officials. It has almost compeltely flown under the radar for the past five years, that is until Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) submitted the SOPA bill in the House of Representatives, which opened a Pandora’s Box of controversy and lead to the discovery of ACTA.
Coverage of ACTA by the U.S. media has been lacking, at least compared to SOPA and PIPA. So far, protests of ACTA have been predominantly held in Europe. However, as more and more European governments start to reconsider ACTA in response to this past weekend’s protests, we may finally start to see some more coverage of this proposed treaty here in the United States.