EU data protection body warns over ACTA


An independent data protection body in the EU has warned that proposed anti-counterfeiting and piracy legislation could breach privacy provisions under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would threaten privacy and data protection if it were not properly implemented, according to the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).

In a statement, the EDPS said measures allowing the indiscriminate or widespread monitoring of Internet users’ behaviour concerning smallscale, trivial infringement would be in breach of Article 8 of the ECHR, as well as the Data Protection Directive and Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The watchdog said that ACTA, an international trade agreement harmonising international standards for IP enforcement, “lacked precision”. This means its measures could have “unacceptable side effects on fundamental rights of individuals”, the EDPS said.

It said many of ACTA’s voluntary cooperation measures would entail a processing of personal data by Internet service providers that goes beyond EU legislation, and that the agreement, which 22 EU member states including the UK have signed, does not contain sufficient limitations and safeguards. These include effective judicial protection, due process, the principle of the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy and data protection.

Giovanni Buttarelli, of the EDPS, said that although more international cooperation is needed to enforce IP rights, this should not come at the expense of individuals’ fundamental rights.

Proponents of ACTA have said the treaty addresses Internet piracy only to a small extent, mainly focusing on reducing the sale and distribution of hard counterfeit goods.

But its opponents have come out in force, with widespread protests and condemnation from politicians. David Martin, the MEP responsible for suggesting which way European parliament lawmakers should vote, has said ACTA should be rejected.

A debate on the EU’s adoption of the treaty is expected in June 2012.

This article was first published on 01 May 2012 in World IP Review

ECHR, ACTA, anti-counterfeiting, human rights

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