The final vote on ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is happening on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. The protest in Europe against ACTA has been very effective - but there needs to be a final and resounding "Say No to ACTA".
Remember the Internet blackout to protest about SOPA and PIPA?
Together with other lobbying, it was highly effective in defeating, or at least shelving, legislation that would have curbed the freedom of the Internet.
ACTA is both similar and different.
The similarity is the threat it poses to the inherent freedom and openness of the Internet and the difference is that as a treaty, rather than a law.
As La Quadrature du Net, a French advocacy group that promotes the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet, pointed out, ACTA aims at imposing new criminal sanctions and online censorship in the name of copyright:
ACTA is one more offensive against the sharing of culture on the Internet. ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an agreement secretly negotiated by a small "club" of like-minded countries (39 countries, including the 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc). Negotiated instead of being democratically debated, ACTA bypasses parliaments and international organizations to dictate a repressive logic dictated by the entertainment industries.
Although ACTA had already been signed by dozens of countries, including 22 European countries, before it became a topic of widespread concern, it still had to be ratified by the European Parliament for it to go into effect around the world.
Protest against ACTA was first apparent in Poland where many websites, including those of the prime minister and parliament, were inaccessible for two days in January in attacks claimed by hack-collective Anonymous. Subsequently, Internet users took to the streets and in the Polish parliament politicians covered their faces with masks.
More widespread protest were organized in February by AccessNow, which has been spearheading the "Just Say No to ACTA" campaign:
The final vote takes places in Strasbourg on July 4 and AccessNow is planning to blanket the entrance of the European Parliament with banners to ensure MEPs vote "No!" and is appealing for help by way of donations and joining in the protest. It says:
We're going up against a powerful, resource-rich pro-ACTA camp, who in a last-ditch effort are persuading MEPs to vote "Yes." ACTA has global implications, so no matter where you live, this dangerous agreement will affect your internet. That's why we need the world's citizens to convince the European Parliament that ACTA has to go.
If you are in Europe there's still time to contact your MEP to share your concerns. La Quadrature du Net has contact (and voting and party-political) details of all MEPs including links to their email addresses and has also set up a service so that you can ring your MEPs free of charge.