In response to an open letter sent by EDRi-member Bits of Freedom (BoF), the Dutch government has confirmed that it opposes any controversial ACTA-provisions in whatever form.
This confirmation was provoked by the news, only six days after ACTA was rejected by the European Parliament, that a draft text of the Canada - EU Trade Agreement contained provisions that were virtually identical to provisions from ACTA. As the Netherlands set an important example by rejecting ACTA long before the vote in the European Parliament, Bits of Freedom requested the government to do the same with CETA or any agreement alike. And it did.
More specifically in its letter of 17 September 2012, the government - upon BoF’s request – confirmed that it would not agree to the ACTA-provisions in CETA or any other treaty in which such provisions may appear. It stated:
“The European Commission rightly agreed to respect the vote of the European Parliament against ACTA and to observe this vote concerning CETA. ACTA-provisions 27(3) and 27(4) regarding the liability of Internet Service Providers are no longer part of the current draft of CETA. Other provisions relating to the enforcement of intellectual property rights are currently being studied with the aforementioned vote in mind. If provisions do not correspond thereto, they will be changed or deleted.”
“In light of resolution 288 of the House of Representatives, this government will not agree – in whatever agreement this may be – to any ACTA-provisions it voted against. Examples are provisions on the strict enforcement of intellectual property on the internet and provisions that stand in the way of future intellectual property reforms.”
The government further noted that currently there were no other treaties similar to ACTA being negotiated.
This confirmation by the Dutch government is of course very good news. However, due to recent elections, a note of caution is in place: the new government that is currently being formed may decide differently. Seeing the latest positions of the two major parties there is not too much reason for concern: in their election campaign, the liberal party (VVD) took a position against ACTA and similar treaties; the labour party (PvdA) took position only against ACTA but did support resolution 288 (also mentioned above) by which the government was requested to vote against treaties similar to ACTA.
Bits of Freedom hopes that the formal position of the Dutch government against controversial ACTA-provisions in whatever form serves as an example to policymakers in other countries to do the same. This will hopefully help the European Commission accept its loss and realize that the only constructive way forward is to start looking for acceptable alternatives in an open and transparent way.
* This article was published in EDRi-gram Newsletter - Number 10.17, 12 September 2012.