ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, has just been signed in by the European Union.
ACTA, for those who don’t know, is kind of like SOPA’s big brother. It’s a multi-national trade agreement that seeks to protect copyright through a brutish censorship regime just like SOPA and PIPA. The European Digital Rights Group (EDRI) details their beef with the agreement:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a plurilateral international agreement which wants to set a “gold standard” for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The Agreement will have major implications for freedom of expression, access to culture and privacy. It will also harm international trade and stifle innovation.
The EU and 22 member states signed the agreement today according to Wired. The only five member states who have yet to sign the agreement are Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, Netherlands and Slovakia. They are expected to sign it soon though.
Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.S. signed the agreement back in October 2011.
As we previously reported, the U.S. signing of the agreement is in direction violation of the constitution as it requires any trade agreements, which ACTA is, to be approved by Congress before being signed by the president.
The EU signed it, but it’s still not international law just yet. The vote must go before the European Parliament first before becoming law. The EDRI says that ACTA will presented before the International Trade Committee in March and is expected to be voted on by parliament in May.
There are numerous protests and attempts at stopping ACTA at the European Parliament. Many of them are similar to the actions taken against SOPA last Wednesday but on a global scale.
Anonymous has a hand in the fight against it too announcing a World War Web. They are using the hashtag #ActAgainstACTA to drive up support on Twitter.
WORLD WAR WEB. The Internet is here. #Anonymous
They hit a hiccup earlier this morning, however, when members of the group wrongly attacked the EU Parliament, but those attacks have stopped.
@ungarage The "bad guys" are EU Commission (DG Trade) and Council of EU, not European Parliament (yet), that can still save us!RT
#Anonymous for stopping the DDoS on the EU Parliament. That's very nice of you. With datalove, CameronThanks
This story will likely continue to develop throughout the week and the months leading up to the vote in the EU Parliament. We'll keep you updated on any changes.
If you want to know more about ACTA and what you as a citizen can do, here's a great Wiki page with plenty of tips.