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September 21, 2019
POLITICS

ACTA signing draws criticism from all quarters

The Romanian authorities haven’t made any official statement on the signing of the treaty as yet.

The Social-Democratic Party (PSD) president Victor Ponta criticized once again Romania’s signing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) last Thursday in Tokyo. Ponta stated that the Executive had made a mistake by signing the ACTA agreement without a prior public debate and argued it was “unacceptable” for the prime-minister to sign a document without being aware of its content. “If you weigh the fact that Mr. Boc is not familiar with the content of an agreement signed by his government against his going out to shovel the snow, you get a striking image. Mr. Boc finds the ACTA agreement or the EU treaty harder to understand than shovelling,” the Social-Democrat leader stated yesterday in a press conference.

According to Mediafax, the PSD president further stated that Romania shouldn’t have signed ACTA before being given guarantees that efforts to defend the legitimate intellectual property rights would not encroach on the right to privacy and the right to protect personal data. Ponta reiterated that a potential government led by the Social-Liberal Union (USL) would annul ACTA. The PSD leader had already announced on Sunday on his Facebook account that USL would suspend the ACTA anti-piracy agreement if it accedes to power and it did not back the agreement in its present form. Ponta also called on the government “to withdraw their allegiance to this agreement, signed on Romania’s behalf without a prior consultation of the Romanian people”. He also posted on Facebook a number of arguments taken over from www.accessnow.org, a website raising signatures against the European Parliament’s adoption of this agreement.

The deputy Varujan Pambuccian, a member in the Chamber’s Communications and Information Technology committee and leader of the ethnic minorities’ group, voiced in turn doubts over ACTA. In a statement to the online daily “Gandul”, he qualified “the idea of introducing a second, a third, policing force on the Internet” as extremely dangerous. “It is no longer about the purported object of the document, but about a severe encroachment on Internet freedom, which is highly problematic,” the deputy stated, quoted by the aforementioned source.

The Liberal MEP Renate Weber explained last week in a press release that in November 2010 the European Parliament had adopted a resolution in which it voiced its concern over the content of ACTA and called on the European Commission to present a full evaluation of the consequences of the agreement before its signing by the EU member states. “The November 2010 resolution came as a result of our signing in 2010, alongside 932 fellow-MEPs, a written declaration also adopted by the European Parliament, ‘concerning the lack of a transparent process and the potentially controversial content of ACTA’”, Renate Weber stated. She added that the treaty would be forwarded to the European Parliament in May, to be debated by the International Trade Committee and subsequently the full assembly, with a view to its adoption.

Some of the arguments against ACTA, invoked by accessnow.org, refer to the fact this agreement forces Internet providers to conduct monitoring activities at network level and to supply the copyright owners with the personal data of alleged piracy perpetrators. Another accusation levelled at ACTA is the fact it may have severe consequences arising from its failure to find a balance between copyright protection and the protection of basic social rights, such as freedom of speech, free access to information and culture and the right to privacy. Furthermore, ACTA proposes to set up a new body, the “ACTA Commission”, without explicitly defining the obligations and guarantees needed for this body to operate in an open, transparent and inclusive fashion, which would allow the exercise of public control on its actions. The European Parliament already pointed out, in a study on the agreement, its problematic aspects, including those of a legal nature, arguing that it was “difficult to identify the significant advantages that ACTA offers EU citizens compared to the existing international legislation”. Representatives of the European Union and of 22 EU member states signed last Thursday in Tokyo the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which cannot be enforced, however, without the European Parliament’s stamp of approval.
By the time the present issue went to press, “Nine O’Clock” had not received a reply to the query addressed to the Foreign Ministry, as to the identity of the person who signed the agreement in Tokyo on Romania’s behalf. On Saturday, PM Boc stated he had “no information” concerning this matter.

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