Monday, July 19, 2010

ACTA so transparent, the text still has to be leaked

At this point, one gets the sense that Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiators are just yanking our collective chains with their talk of "transparency." After releasing a single version of the ACTA draft text back in April, the negotiations descended into their customary and unnecessary secrecy once more. After the most recent round of negotiations in Lucerne, the governments involved didn't even bother to release the new text. And when the European Commission briefed European members of parliament, the meeting was secret—so Pirate MEP Christian Engström left.

It's hard to say why the negotiators still insist on such secrecy, especially when draft texts of the treaty keep leaking anyway. Another one appeared today (PDF), courtesy of someone in the European Parliament, and it incorporates all the most recent changes from the Lucerne round.

At least ACTA's negotiators have opened up a bit when it comes to even discussing the treaty. US negotiator Stan McCoy spoke about ACTA this week in DC, while EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht held a public briefing yesterday at the European Parliament. And ACTA negotiators did take some questions from critics at Lucerne.

So—progress, of a sort, but it wasn't enough to win over 90 academics and advocates who gathered in Lucerne to discuss the ACTA. In late June, this group issued a statement that said, "We find that the terms of the publicly released draft of ACTA threaten numerous public interests, including every concern specifically disclaimed by negotiators."

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