CETA Is Now Slightly Less Like ACTA (But Still Similar, And Still Secret)
from the i-suppose-it's-progress dept
Earlier this week, we wrote about the revelation (via a leaked text) that the Canada-EU Trade Agreement, which is nearing completion, contains provisions in the IP chapter that are extremely similar to ACTA. It's a pretty clear attempt to reboot the ACTA process via a back door, and Michael Geist's coverage drew a lot of attention to the issue in Europe. Now, it looks like damage control is already underway: Geist reports that the European Commission has made a weak attempt to assuage concerns by announcing that two of the ACTA-like provisions in CETA have been dropped. Unfortunately, those provisions only represent a small fraction of CETA's similarities to ACTA:
The European Commission, which initially indicated that it would not respond to the posting of the leaked CETA IP chapter, has now responded by saying that the two ACTA provisions involving Internet providers have been dropped from CETA. When asked whether those were the only changes, EU Trade spokesperson John Clancy said there may be other changes but that this was the biggest one.
While the removal of the Internet provider provisions is a good step, the European Parliament's overwhelming rejection of ACTA was the result of far more than just the Internet provider provisions. Indeed, there has been concern about digital locks, damages, criminal provisions, and border measures. All of those provisions also appeared in the February 2012 CETA draft and Clancy's response suggest that most, if not all, remain there.
So... some of the bad stuff has been removed from the leaked draft that we weren't supposed to see in the first place. Also there may be other changes—who knows? Certainly not the public, and apparently not the EU Trade spokesperson either. You probably see the real issue here: even if they removed all of the controversial provisions from CETA, there would still be the little matter of how they were trying to quietly push through all the exact same stuff that citizens and politicians across Europe rose up and rejected mere weeks ago. The public still had to learn about it via a leaked document. New information comes in the form of vague descriptions, not new public drafts. This is not how you negotiate an international agreement in the 21st century, and that's what people are reacting to.
I suspect the people behind CETA are really, really annoyed: they were so close to slipping this one through, and now they might have another ACTA on their hands. How many times does this have to happen before politicians, diplomats, and the special interest groups that drive these agreements realize they no longer get to operate without public scrutiny?