Last month I wrote about the "clean and open Internet" consultation being carried out by the European Commission, and pointed out that many of the E-commerce Directive's measures mapped quite neatly onto some of the worst ideas of ACTA. Maybe it won't turn out to be as bad as it looks, but it's hard not to get the impression that the European Commission is determined to push through similar measures, by hook or by crook, not least when there things like this crawl out of the woodwork:
The shadow of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is back in Europe. It is disguised as CETA, the Canada-European Union and Trade Agreement. As reported by EDRI, a rather strange and surprising e-mail was sent this summer from the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union to the Member States and the European Commission. The e-mail explained that the criminal sanctions provisions of the draft CETA are modeled on those in ACTA.
And that's not all, as JÃ©rÃ©mie Zimmermann of La Quadrature du Net revealed:
The current attitude of the EU negotiators on CETA is an alarming repetition of the blatant denial of democracy of the ACTA negotiations. Despite calls from citizens and representatives, CETA remains confidential, both in the EU and in Canada. In this context of non-transparency, Philipp Dupuis, the European Commission negotiator, confirmed at a workshop held on October 10th 2012 that ACTA-like criminal sanctions were still in the CETA draft.
As that makes clear, one of the reasons we have to resort to this unsatisfactory kind of Kremlinological reading of the tea leaves is because we little people are not allowed to see the texts of these treaties until after they signed – at which point, of course, nothing can be done about them. Not surprisingly, the European Commission is fighting tooth and nail to preserve an unjustifiable but convenient secrecy that allows major policy decisions to be rammed through in this anti-democratic fashion.
However, the earlier rejection of ACTA by the European Parliament may signal the beginning of the end of this 20th-century style policy-making behind closed doors. If the MEPs are wise, they will refuse to allow the Commission to use CETA to sneak through the same ideas that have already been soundly rejected by them, and insist on ACTA-like measures being removed before ratifying any treaty. If they don't, the Commission will then use these secretive, backroom deals for yet more policy laundering, and the European Parliament will suffer. To say nothing of us poor, long-suffering citizens whose only role here seems to be to pay EU politicians' generous salaries...