European Trade Committee Chair Defends Continued Secrecy On ACTA

from the but-of-course dept

The ridiculous secrecy behind ACTA still hasn't stopped, even as the document has long been made public, and most of the negotiating countries have signed on. The EU bloc of countries has not signed on, as they've been awaiting some legal analysis to determine if the text of ACTA is in accordance with existing EU law. Apparently, the European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA) has planned a meeting for November 23rd, in which it will hear the European Parliament legal service's opinion on ACTA's current status with existing EU law. However, that meeting and the report from the legal service... will be kept secret. Some concerned folks sent an open letter protesting this secrecy, and were given a doublespeak response from the chair of INTA, Vital Moreira. As best as I can figure out, Moreira's argument is we're keeping the meeting and the analysis secret, because it's secret, thus we have to keep it secret.
...the opinion of the Legal Service is, for the time being, a confidential document; therefore its presentation is foreseen to take place in an “in camera” part of the Committee meeting.

... as to the question whether there is an overriding public interest in disclosure of the opinion under Regulation (EC) No. 1049/2001: under legislation in force and related jurisprudence, it is for the institution concerned to balance the interest to be protected by non-disclosure and public interest in disclosure.
So here's the thing that I don't understand: why is it in the public interest to have this document be confidential and secret. I can't think of any single compelling reason that doesn't involve corruption. If it's merely a legal analysis of the status of ACTA under existing law, there should be nothing to keep confidential. The only reason to keep such a thing confidential is if the intent is to change the analysis before it actually does go public. That would indicate undue pressure by some on what should be an objective analysis. Assuming that the European Parliament legal service is not, in fact, corrupt, then what other possible reasons could there be for keeping such a document secret.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2011 @ 11:02pm

    So is the U.S. already a signatory or not? I heard Obama signed us up but Senator Wyden has objected that he didn't really have the authority.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    DandonTRJ (profile), Nov 15th, 2011 @ 12:32am

    Re:

    We signed. The question is whether or not we had the authority to sign without legislative approval, and if we didn't, whether Congress will care enough to say so and/or do anything about it. My guess (based on talks with some of my law profs) is it'll depend in large part how many people are sold on the USTR's go-to excuse (that ACTA allegedly conforms with existing law, a shaky proposition at best) and who would have standing to challenge the agreement on those constitutional grounds if apathy wins the day in Congress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 15th, 2011 @ 12:58am

    Because if we told the people what it actually said they might decide we are completely insane and move against us. Its not like the EU will be around much longer after Greece and Italy collapse and it disbands. In the mean time they can pocket all of the "contributions" and wait for the laws to go away on their own.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    anonymous, Nov 15th, 2011 @ 1:27am

    a) because they can keep it secret
    b)because they're scared that the people will then see just how corrupt the officials are
    c)because the people would also see how far these officials had sailed them down the river!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    The eejit (profile), Nov 15th, 2011 @ 2:25am

    Re:

    Yes, it was signed. It, however, needs Congressional approval, as it is a TRADE AGREEMENT and not an EXECUTIVE AGREEMENT.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Tom, Nov 15th, 2011 @ 4:08am

    Just written to my 6 MEPS about this.

    Its a bit of a cut and paste job:
    Apparently, the European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA) has planned a meeting for November 23rd, in which it will hear the European Parliament legal service's opinion on ACTA's current status with existing EU law. However, that meeting and the report from the legal service... will be kept secret.

    Why is it in the public interest to have this document be confidential and secret. I can't think of any single compelling reason that doesn't involve corruption. If it's merely a legal analysis of the status of ACTA under existing law, there should be nothing to keep confidential. The only reason to keep such a thing confidential is if the intent is to change the analysis before it actually does go public. That would indicate undue pressure by some on what should be an objective analysis. Assuming that the European Parliament legal service is not, in fact, corrupt, then what other possible reasons could there be for keeping such a document secret.

    I am hoping that you will object to this secrecy.

    Yours sincerely,

    and, i admit i barely understand what i am talking about - but if its helps...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Nemo, Nov 15th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    It sounds like an insanity, it smells like an insanity and it feels like an insanity.
    Learning and teaching has apparently small price to pay. I still continue studying at any price... and That AC seems to have a compelling point too =(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2011 @ 9:16pm

    Standard Bureaucrats vs People Story

    This is just a bunch of bureaucrats keeping stuff secret because they can. Situation normal. Bureaucrats love secrecy. The political level needs to keep them under control. The politicians have to be willing to issue threats of bureaucrats losing their jobs if transparency is not followed. If there are no such threats going on, the problem lies at the political level.

    When there actually is political will present, then bureaucrats lose their jobs with alacrity. Look at what happens to whistleblowers. They are out the door so fast their feet don't touch the ground.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    davnel (profile), Nov 15th, 2011 @ 9:33pm

    Bah!!!

    To paraphrase Sam Clemmons, "There's only two true criminal classes in the world: Politicians and Lawyers, and they're all in cahoots". Sorry, Sam.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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