Dutch lawmakers have voted unanimously against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international bill with severe repercussions against both free speech and information access. Although the EU’s vote is not scheduled until June, Holland’s MPs have decided not only to strike down the current bill but to come out against ACTA’s sentiment as a whole, ruling that the government will never sign any such treaty.
As this highly controversial bill makes its way through the EU parliament, it has been met with considerable resistance from organizations such as the Open Rights Group, the German, Swedish, and UK Pirate Parties, as well as internet users in general, going so far as to prompt Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian to propose a rapid-response system against oppressive legislation. Numerous rallies have been held across Europe, with dissent evident even in the Polish parliament, where members wore masks similar to those made famous by internet activist group Anonymous to protest the majority support of ACTA. The act bears some resemblance to the American Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill that inspired its own campaign of resistance which culminated in a widespread internet “blackout” in mid-January.
Currently, the US, most of the EU, Canada, Australia, and Japan have signed the treaty, although none of the aforementioned countries’ legislatures have yet ratified it.