European Commission Suggests ACTA's Opponents Don't Have 'Democratic Intentions'

from the what-planet-are-they-on? dept

Last week, we had a story about the IFPI (the international equivalent of the RIAA) saying that the ACTA protests were trying to “silence the democratic process”. You might have thought that was bad enough, but here’s worse. points us to leaked internal minutes of a meeting of the European Commission the day before the massive Europe-wide demonstrations against ACTA. They reveal the EU’s top politicians taken aback by the scale of the planned demonstrations, but dismissing them with almost the same words as the IFPI (German original):

ultimately it will be hard to convince civil society organizations [about the benefits of ACTA]. Represented among them are interests that do not reflect the wider community. Specific activities were observed that do not always live up to the supposedly democratic intentions.

The minutes went on to detail some of the things people are up to:

ACTA’s opponents are trying to mobilize people against the agreement, in order to influence the remaining MS [Member States that have not yet signed] and EP [Parliament].

So the European Commission thinks that tens of thousands of people on the streets somehow don’t reflect the wider community — presumably unlike the small band of negotiators and lobbyists behind closed doors that drew up ACTA in secrecy for years, who do represent the European Union’s 500 million people.

And the Commissioners are just shocked that the opponents of ACTA, who have been denied any meaningful transparency about what was being agreed to in their name during those now-concluded negotiations, are desperately trying to make their voices heard by the only institutions left that can listen: the EU nations that haven’t signed ACTA, and the European Parliament that must still ratify it.

This suggests that the European Commission is completely out of touch with the people it supposedly serves, and still doesn’t understand the growing anger that its arrogant approach and condescending tone continues to generate on the streets.

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Comments on “European Commission Suggests ACTA's Opponents Don't Have 'Democratic Intentions'”

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Paddy Duke (profile) says:

Oh Mike-Glyn, this is the NewDemocracy?.

It?s like the old democracy, but? better. And trademarked.

We didn?t get to be rich and powerful by letting “the public” tell us what to do. No, we told them to vote for us and accept this law and that law, or there would be child porn. Just child porn everywhere.

Is that what you freetards want, Mike-Glyn? Terrorist child porn and cupcake bombs? Because that?s how it looks from way up here. And those things are totally unNewDemocratic?.

DannyB (profile) says:

What could be more democratic?

What could be more democratic than private industry buying off politicians who will rubber stamp verbatim laws written by private industry, or “negotiate” international treaties in secret. (examples: DMCA was written by former Motion Picture Ass. head of America, Jack Valenti; ACTA was negotiated in secret. Gee, Jack, you couldn’t have gotten more custom legislation than that could you?)

Freetards just don’t understand true democracy.

The IFPI, RIAA and MPAA are just trying to buy the best democracy possible. Shut up now. It’s for your own good.

LyleD says:

Democratic indeed

The European Commission DOES NOT represent the people! The European Parliament represents the people!

“The members of the commission are proposed by their member state governments, one from each, however they are bound to act independently ? neutral from other influences such as those governments which appointed them.” (wiki ref)

Which ofc is complete bollocks.. They’re all backroom boys who legislate for the good their club and not the people.. Democratic intentions indeed..

IMO their opinion carry’s no weight whatsoever and everything they say or do is immediately suspect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, what can be more democratic then listening to the people with the biggest bags of money that they’re willing to give you?

After all, that’s why American democracy is flourishing with Super PAC spending, all thanks to 5 really REALLY rich people who have donated over 25% of the Super PAC money to date. What could be more democratic then rich billionaires trying to force candidates onto the public that the public already said they don’t want?

kenichi tanaka says:

What did they think was going to happen when the meetings were closed off to the public and only those who represent intellectual property and copyrights were allowed to be involved with the meetings.

But, it backfired on the ACTA terrorists. Excuse me for saying so, but anyone involved with putting together ACTA ARE terrorists. The entire reasoning behind ACTA was misrepresented because the entertainment industry keeps demanding more restrictive copyright laws and what can be done with their product. The thing is, the entertainment industry does not create content (games, movies, music).

When you have game developers, music artists and movie directors, producers, cast and crew all rallying against ACTA, then there has to be a major problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

it suggests to me that the members of the EU Commission are just as bought and paid for as the US Senate/Congress. sooner or later, there will be severe repercussions against those that are supposed to represent the people but are, in actual fact, interested only in lining their own pockets with the ‘encouragement’ received for representing big corporations!

Caroline says:

Again de Gucht

Again Karel de Gught is lying and spreading the opposite of what ACTA is really going to mean.

Of course the EC exactly knows what is going on. They cannot be surprised, so naive nobody can be.
This leads to the conclusion that it all is deliberate. And that we are really in a fight that we have to continue and win in order to keep our freedom.

Anonymous Coward says:

In some ways they are right. Just like the SOPA deal, the opponents are more interested in their own business models and vested interests, and are going to scream loudly to get it stopped. They don’t respresent a majority, they don’t even appear to represent a good sized minority.

It’s not democratic when a small group of people try to tell the larger group what is and what is not right. That just isn’t going to work out well. It’s funny to see you guys with your panties in a knot because someone pointed out the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:


“They don’t respresent a majority, they don’t even appear to represent a good sized minority.”

Hundreds of thousands of people on the streets in various countries is what then?

“It’s not democratic when a small group of people try to tell the larger group what is and what is not right.”

You are completely delusional. This isn’t a cartel of corporations buying political influence. This is THE people speaking out. And ultimately, in a Democracy, you do what the people want.

European leaders should just stop poking the hornets nest. People are already on edge because of the austerity measures. Push them too far, and we’ll have a revolution in our hands. Or worse: another war.

Anonymous Coward says:


It’s not democratic when a small group of people try to tell the larger group what is and what is not right. That just isn’t going to work out well.

Yep. a small group of content companies, many of who’s clients, employees, and customers don’t support their agenda, trying to enforce their will onto the vast majority of people isn’t going to work that well.

When you push enough people into a corner for a long enough period of time, eventually they push back. And the more you people insist on pushing us, the harder we are going to push back.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Democratic indeed

The European Parliament represents the people!

I’m assuming this was a joke. With the average voter turnout being 43% per country in 2009 and THAT only being helped by countries like Luxembourg up in the 90’s and for example the Conservatives the top scorers in the UK getting 25 seats from 27% of the actual vote (or about 10% of people in the country voting Conservative). I wouldn’t call that terribly representative of the people.

I’d say Winston Churchill was right: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
Of course no one has actually tried a real democracy yet and it seems in most cases Parlimentary Democracy has little to do with “The People”. In this day and age a “true” democracy is technicaly possible – I wonder why no-one has tried. Perhaps Sir Winston was right about that one too: ?The best argument against democracy is 5 minutes with the average voter.?, but I don’t think they could make a worse hash of it than the average bought-and-paid-for politician.

Anonymous Coward says:


It is people speaking out, but is it the majority of people, or just some people?

Can you really say it is democratic if 10% of the people are against something, so you don’t do it?


Where is the magic number? Usually in a democracy, it is 50% (plus 1). Moreover, most political systems do not put every issue to a public referendum, rather the laws are created and passed by the democratically elected government.

If you really want your say, have it at the ballot box. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you are majority, because the ballot box says otherwise.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


On issues such as SOPA and ACTA the ballot box says no such thing. ACTA may not have been an issue in many EU countries the last time they held an election and SOPA/PIPA certainly weren’t the last time Americans went to the polls. So to say that the majority are in favour of these things is what’s delusional.

The response to on line petitions, phone call campaigns and other kinds of protest indicate that the majority are opposed to these sorts of things. By which I mean bills in legislatures written by and for special interest groups such as the entertainment and fashion industries in the back rooms before being brought onto the floor for debate. Or international treaties being negotiated exclusively in the back room with those same interests before being imposed on countries without wide, knowledgeable and extensive debate by the citizens of the countries involved and not merely interest groups.

kamjam (profile) says:

This suggests that the European Commission is completely out of touch with the people it supposedly serves, and still doesn’t understand the growing anger that its arrogant approach and condescending tone continues to generate on the streets.

Of course they understand, it’s just they’re paid off to turn a blind eye. Otherwise no one can be that stupid… i hope…

AB says:

If they want more freedom, let them enjoy more laws.

As Marie Antoinette said of the starving masses, “If they have no bread, let them eat cake.” The really sad thing is that she honestly meant it. Like all elitists she was so completely out of touch with reality that she truly believed her suggestion was a feasible alternative and could not understand why they continued to starve.

Revolutions are an effective method of clearing an overpopulation of elitists from the field, but eventually the population builds up again. And they inevitably are attracted to positions of power from which they become more and more disconnected until the next revolution rolls around.

It is a mistake to assume all these people are bought and paid for. Certainly some of them are, but there are also many who simply have no clue and sincerely believe the rhetoric. These truly cannot understand the anger of the people.

An old-fashioned revolution may not be the prettiest solution, but it is certainly time to start looking. If enough intelligent people focus on the problem, perhaps a better way to achieve the same effect can be found. The democracy we currently practice has served well for a long time and I certainly hope it can be modified rather then discarded.

tqk says:


Thanks for the link. It works. Um:

De Gucht insists that ACTA will not lead to the censorship or closing down of websites and will not hinder freedom on the Internet or freedom of speech, but said that the referral to the European Court of Justice would help ?cut through this fog of uncertainty.?

Uh huh. Politicians not reading stuff they expect to sign, still? If De Gucht wants to cut through the fog of uncertainty, perhaps he ought to read it?

Chosen Reject (profile) says:


If less than 50% of the people show up, then it is definitely a minority, but that ignores several things:
1) More people are going to have an opinion one way or the other than are going to show up for a protest. I don’t know what percentage of people who agree but are no shows, but it’s not a trivial number.
2) ACTA supporters could also rally in the streets to show their support, but they’re not. Sure, like above, there’s going to be support that doesn’t show up, and the number isn’t trivial, but I would suspect the percentages are the same. In which case, it’s obvious more people are against ACTA than for.
3) The only people who have been allowed to say anything for or against ACTA while it was being negotiated were either those who wanted it, or those lobbied by those who wanted it. That’s not democracy. If the opposers aren’t being democratic, that only means nothing about ACTA has been democratic, because the supporters have been even less democratic than the opposers.

However, let’s consider the ramifications of a minority turnouts. In the 2010 election year, Lamar Smith received 69% of the vote, whereas Ron Wyden received only 57% of the vote. However, only 32.2% of the eligible voters in Texas showed up to vote, which means Lamar Smith only received ~22.2% of the vote, whereas 52.7% of eligible voters in Oregon showed up to vote, giving Ron Wyden ~30% of the vote. Judging by this, neither should hold office, but Wyden deserves to be in office more than Smith.

tqk says:


The democractic part is this: If you think the people you elected are screwing you, toss their sorry asses out and replace them.

You should take off those rose coloured glasses. That doesn’t appear to work anymore.

Vic Toews, Canada’s “Minister for Public Safety”‘s latest hobby horse is “Lawful Access” legislation which was written by the Liberals who have since been tossed out and relegated to fringe party status. Toews pretty much admitted to the CBC that he hadn’t even read the thing. Why are the Conservatives now pushing for laws that originated with the Liberals?

Who should we vote in now, Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck?

Could it be that deep pocketed corporations (RIAA, MPAA, et al) are now in control of the elected politicians, and not the electorate?

For the US-ians among us, how’s that “Hope and Change” thing of Obama’s working out for you?

Democracy, 21st Century style: “Shut up and take it. We know what’s good for you, not you.”

Not an Electronic Rodent says:


Where is the magic number? Usually in a democracy, it is 50% (plus 1).

Except that would be 50% + 1 of the people that turn up. By that measure then 100% of the people that turned up are against ACTA. By any other measure then you don’t live in a democracy there in America (assuming you ARE American),or anywhere else for that matter, since at the last presidential election voter turnout was 56.8% and Obama got 52.9% of the vote, so about 25% of Americans allowed to vote voted for him (considerably less than 25% of Americans). So… what exactly IS the magic number?

I’m curious, do you seriously beleive that the ONLY say a citizen of a country should have is to once every [four] years make a choice between a small handful of people they had no say in choosing and with whom they will inevitably disagree with strenuously on a majority of issues? When was the last time you found ANYONE who agreed with you on every issue? Or is it your position just a convenient excuse for something else such as a lack of caring or a vested interest?

Chargone (profile) says:


fireworks on the 5th of november might be an interesting idea if protests are still needed then.

wouldn’t really be noticed in the commonwealth, i suppose, but elsewhere the sudden migration of such an event might be noticeable.

(now, Guy Fawks day is actually a celebration of the fact that he Failed to destroy parliament… but more importantly, failed to kill the Monarch, as the point in the exercise was apparently a change in king. still, whether you read it as pointing out that those sufficiently unhappy with how things are being run may well resort to explosives or as that attempts to undermine the right and proper order of government Will fail (note that right and proper in this case means actually for the good of the people, with their participation, whether a monarch is involved or not) it’d still be significant.

failing that you get the link to V for Vendetta and Annoymous, so meh *shrugs*)

Chargone (profile) says:


either that or he’s blatantly lieing.

also, most of these things are written in legalise. that can obfusicate ANYTHING in a perfectly precise and totally accurate manner.

(technically bills up for vote here in NZ are available to the public, at least usually. problem is every two or three sentences there’s five paragraphs of this, that, or the other party or politician forcing through changes to the effect of adding or removing full stops, swapping ‘a’ for ‘the’ and vice versa, and other equally pathetic things that would not MATTER if the bloody thing were written in proper english in the first place. (the courts have to make rulings on exactly what is meant all the time Anyway, and while it might give people a little more leigimate wiggle room on the less important stuff, the More important stuff would be a heck of a lot clearer. there’d be less loopholes and what loopholes there were, Anyone could see and thus compensate for, and it’d be a lot harder to HIDE any unintended (or intended) consiquences that were contrary to the public good.)

JMT says:


“Just like the SOPA deal, the opponents are more interested in their own business models and vested interests, and are going to scream loudly to get it stopped. They don?t respresent a majority, they don?t even appear to represent a good sized minority.”

This is a ridiculous statement. In fact, you?ve just perfectly described SOPA proponents. The movie studios, record labels, etc are more interested in their own (outdated) business models and vested interests, and scream loudly (via lobbying the government) to get it enacted. They don?t represent a majority; they don?t even appear to represent a good sized minority (0.14% of the US?s GDP from memory).

“It?s not democratic when a small group of people try to tell the larger group what is and what is not right.”

The “small group”, which were not small by the standards of public protests, were not trying to tell a larger group what is and what is not right, they were trying to tell a the government what is and what is not right. It?s a rather important difference, and it?s amazing you don?t understand this.

AB says:

If they want more freedom, let them enjoy more laws.

The term accredited is ‘Brioche’ which does indeed refer to ‘a delicious desert type thingy.’ Perhaps the word ‘pastry’ would have been a more accurate translation, but ‘cake’ remains close enough for most people.

As to whether the quote is real or not… while there is some question of its validity, it remains a well known phrase with a strong association. Good enough for the purpose of demonstrating how an powerful individual (old-time aristocrat or modern politician) can have the best of intentions while remaining totally out of touch with reality.

AB says:


So you are saying ACTA is not democratic since it is being decided entirely by an incredibly tiny minority with no ballot box option (or any other form of representation) being made available to anyone else.

The elected officials who are supposed to be representing their constituents have been cut off from those people by a wall of secrecy enforced through unethical rules and mandates. In order to even be present they had to sign contracts specifically preventing them from seeking the opinions of the people they are supposed to represent. No matter how you slice it, that is not a good example of representative democracy.

AB says:


We had a very nice minority government for a while, but in the last election they managed to trick their way back into a majority leadership despite having less than 50% of the people’s votes. (What was that you said about democracy meaning 50% +1?)

The reality is that very few politicians in the modern world actually represent their constituents. They are usually voted in because they are the least of a bad lot, not because they are the best of anything.

explicit coward (profile) says:


“The democractic part is this: If you think the people you elected are screwing you, toss their sorry asses out and replace them.”

The problem is: You can’t toss them out BEFORE they screw you, unless they try to screw you right before the end of their term – which they usually don’t, because they are clever bastards.

The very SYSTEM is broken: You elect someone based on his/her promises. If he/she starts to break said promises you have no means to stop him/her from doing so until the end of term.

In an age of potential instant feedback this is nothing but sad.

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