On 11 February 2012, many thousands took to the streets throughout Europe in a co-ordinated protest against ACTA - the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
After the demise of the SOPA and PIPA bills, ACTA has attracted several petitions, with many 1000’s of people signing to prevent what they say will be a direct attack on freedom of speech online. The supporters of the agreement, however insist it will not change existing laws and will provide protection for content creators against piracy.
And now people across Europe have taken to the streets to voice their objections.
While the biggest marches were held in Poland, Germany and the Netherlands, there were marches in Austria, Bulgaria, Spain, Lithuania and London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, UK. In London approximately 200 protesters gathered in the centre of the city outside the offices of several major rights holders.
February 11, 2012 - worldwide protests against the ACTA internet censorship treaty - Rostock, Germany.
So far, the treaty has been signed by 22 EU members including the United Kingdom, but has not yet been ratified by the European Parliament, where a debate is set to happen in June this year. The controversial treaty also affects the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan.
Germany delayed signing the agreement on Friday to "give us time to carry out further discussions". The spokesman said that three member states in Europe are now looking as if they do not want to sign. Slovakia, Poland the Czech Republic have already delayed the process after significant pressure from mostly young people in those countries.
The spokesman also said "It's lacked scrutiny, it's setting up dangerous new pressures to censor the internet to remove users and put pressure on Internet Service Providers to start policing for copyright.”
What is ACTA?
• The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is an international treaty aiming to standardise copyright protection measures worldwide.
• It seeks to curb trade of counterfeited physical goods, including copyrighted material online, generic drugs and patented seeds.
• Preventative measures include possible imprisonment and fines.
• Critics argue that it will stifle freedom of expression on the internet, and it has been likened to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
More information in the video below: