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April, Act Up-Paris et La Quadrature du Net

ACTA and the European Commission : the great escape

lundi 22 mars 2010

Brussels, March 22nd, 2010 - Members of Act Up-Paris and La Quadrature
du Net attended this morning a « stakeholders meeting » on ACTA hosted
by the European Commission. Questions asked by the public faced a wall
of condescendence and disdain. Luc Devigne’s answers did not reassure
us. On the contrary, they strenghtened Act Up-Paris, April and La
Quadrature’s concerns that ACTA could endanger access to medicine,
Free Software and freedom of expression on the Net, while
circumventing democratic processes.

Representative from the Trade Directorate General, and negociator of
ACTA for the EU, Luc Devigne, took great effort in not answering the
questions he was asked. What Mr. Devigne didn’t say was more
significant than what he did say. According to him, all the analysis
suggesting that the agreement under negociation would dangerously
impact fundamental freedoms on the Internet, access to medicine in
third world countries and the development of Free Software are just
"rumours" that should be dismissed.

We remain convinced of the opposite, as confirmed by the latest leaks
and analysis. More than ever, the scariest thing is the strong
impression that the whole negotiation process of ACTA is aimed at
circumventing democratic processes.

Several points raised by the negociator are calling for great concern :

 Devigne refused to clarify the difference between fake medicines and
unlicensed generic drugs.

 According to Devigne, customs officials could act upon suspicion (for
instance for the seizures of medicines on borders), without the
intervention of a judge, which is a clear negation of the right to a
fair trial and could have dreadful impact on access to medicine.

 According to him, the notion of "commercial scale" used to define what
should be in or out the scope of ACTA, should not be defined, but left
up to interpretation by judges (when the entertainment industry apply
the notion of "commercial scale" to peer-to-peer filesharing per se !),
which is a cause of major legal uncertainty and a threat to

 Devigne refused to clarify whether or not operators should restrict
Internet access through contract law, which would be the direct
consequence of increasing their legal liability through ACTA
provisions (criminal sanctions, civil injunctions, statutory damages,

Until all these questions are answered, and the protection of
fundamental freedoms, free software and access to medication is
guaranteed, ACTA should be totally opposed.