A leaked G8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and USA) document gives the strongest indication yet that the leading countries behind ACTA are working on the basis that the Agreement is now in serious trouble and needs to be fundamentally re-thought and re-worked – and in its current form even abandoned.
The leaked document, apparently prepared in the context of law enforcement working groups, appears to consciously address some of the criticisms that have been made of ACTA. In particular, the document avoids repeating the most obvious failure in ACTA – seeking to propose a “one size fits all” solution for every IPR issue from counterfeiting to unauthorised copying of digital goods. Instead, it narrows its focus wholly to counterfeit goods and medicines.
Unfortunately, the lessons have not been completely learned. The Internet section, while avoiding the issue of policing of digital copying, is partially copied and pasted from the White House annual report on IPR Enforcement.
The G8 document seeks to export the entire US policy on the role of intermediaries in the trade in physical counterfeits. In particular, it seeks to make American companies into a form of global non-judicial police force / government, with responsibilities ranging from “educating” citizens to policing and, ultimately, punishing companies and citizens on the basis of allegations.
Such measures would include removing entire domain names from the Internet, removal of companies from search engine results, removal of advertising services and the blocking of payments if the intermediary is informed that they “may be supporting transactions involving counterfeit merchandise”. While very unwelcome, the proposal on intermediaries is simply an explicit expression of what many law-makers fail to see is implicit in ACTA – that global, almost entirely US-based companies, would be responsible for online policing – including being judge, jury and executioner wherever they see fit.
The questions now are, after the main driving forces behind ACTA appear to have left it behind and are trying a more focused, but still very dangerous, approach:
*Would or could the European Parliament force the fatally flawed ACTA on a Europe and a world that has moved on?
*More urgently, will seven of the G8 countries really support a proposal which explicitly gives US companies jurisdiction over their citizens and their online businesses?
G8 document: http://www.edri.org/files/G8.pdf