I have been writing about ACTA here for what seems several centuries. The good news is that I will stop doing that soon, because the key vote on ACTA will be taking place in the European Parliament at the beginning of July. Contrary to some reports, ACTA is not dead: although there have been some important shifts in the last few months – actually, pretty staggering ones when you consider the situation at the end of last year – votes in the European Parliament are notoriously hard to predict. This means we must assume that the battle is still on, and not become complacent.
The key thing to remember is that if the MEPs vote against ratification, ACTA is effectively dead, since without the EU it will be pretty weak (although I suspect the US will carry on regardless, just as to preserve face.) However, if ratification takes place, then it will come into force – and we will have lost.
That makes the next four weeks absolutely critical, because all MEPs will come under huge pressure from lobbyists to vote for ACTA. It is therefore vitally important that they hear the other side of the story too. In particular, we need to contact the members of the European Parliament Committees known as ITRE (industry committee), JURI (legal affairs committee), LIBE (civil Liberties committee) and DEVE (development committee) that will make their recommendations to the main INTA (international trade) committee which then submits the final recommendation to the European Parliament before the vote.
As ever, the key resource here is La Quadrature du Net, which has put together a summary of what is happening when. It also provides a page linking to comprehensive lists of all the committees and their members, complete with email addresses and phone numbers.
Over the next few days I will be concentrating on each of the four committees mentioned above in turn. I will pull out all the UK MEPs on those committees to make it easier to contact them. And, as usual, I will post my own email to them. I think at this stage these need to be kept short, since MEPs will probably be suffering ACTA fatigue. What will really impress them, I think, are lots of different submissions from concerned citizens, and I therefore urge you to write to as many of the committees as possible. This really is our last chance to stop ACTA and all the misguided thinking it represents – let's not waste it.