Posted at 05:14 PM ET, 02/02/2012

ACTA is Europe’s SOPA moment

Things may have simmered down with the SOPA/PIPA battle in the United States, but across the pond, the fight against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trademark Agreement (ACTA) is boiling over.

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask takes part in a protest against ACTA in central Brussels on Jan. 28. (YVES HERMAN - REUTERS)
Demonstrations are spreading across Europe, both on and offline, to protest ACTA and the effect it could have on online freedom of speech. One of the biggest concerns is that ACTA could force Internet service providers to be responsible for copyright infringements by users, making everyday surveillance of Web usage a real possibility.

In Prague on Wednesday, hundreds of people organized by the Czech Pirate Party gathered in the city center to protest the agreement, Czech news site Ceske Novine reports. Late last month, protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks took to the streets in Brussels. And on Feb. 11, a protest hoped to be as large as the Internet blackout over SOPA has been planned, according to Geekosystem. The organizer of the protest is Access, a group that works to protect human rights on the Internet.

While 22 countries in Europe have already signed ACTA, the European Parliament has yet to pass it.

There may be little hope for the agreement being dropped, however, if the government officials charged with signing it are like one Slovenian ambassador.

When Helena Drnovšek Zorko received a deluge of criticism after signing ACTA, this gem of a response appeared on her blog: “I signed ACTA out of civic carelessness,” she wrote, admitting she hadn’t properly researched the bill. “I did not pay enough attention. ... [and]  I missed an opportunity to fight for the right of conscientious objection on the part of us bureaucrats.”

A longer explanation of ACTA can be found at al-Jazeera’s the Stream.

By  |  05:14 PM ET, 02/02/2012

Tags:  World, Europe, Czech Republic, ACTA, protests, counterfeiting

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