The response to ACTA throughout Europe has been the stuff of legends. People from all walks of life have taken to the streets to protest the amendments in the treaty that only help to serve copyright industries while hurting the Internet in much the same way that SOPA proposed. The political response to the protest has also been encouraging with many nations refusing to back the bill, but it could soon all be for naught.
Techdirt has stumbled upon some rather disturbing movements within the pro-ACTA movement. It looks like the main pro-ACTA forces are using one of three tactics to get the treaty pushed through - arguments, delays, or if all else fails, outright secrecy. All three tactics could work, but it's the last that is the most worrisome.
Let's stick with the traditional ways of getting it approved for now. First up is the argument that ACTA is absolutely necessary to police the ever evolving Internet and protect never evolving copyright industry. It's like dinosaur scientists wanting to create a shield out of tar and twigs to protect themselves from their own impending doom at the hands of an asteroid.
The more likely scenario out of the first two is a delay on the vote. Some members of the EU Parliament are hoping to either build up more support, or rewrite ACTA to remove the more offensive bits. The only problems is that the offensive bits is what makes ACTA the treaty that it is. Many people from within the various industries that built the treaty want these provisions (like internet policing and restrictions on generic drugs) to save their own hides against the ever marching giant of progress.
Unfortunately, there's an even worse solution to ACTA on the horizon. It's been rumored now that members of the EU Parliament will push through a vote using secret ballots. What is a secret ballot, you ask? It essentially lets all the members of Parliament vote anonymously so they can't be held accountable for said vote. Say what you will about our own Congress, but they would never be allowed to get away with something that heinous.
It's almost kind of ironic really. The very thing the Internet is trying to protect - anonymity - is being used to save the asses of those who want to destroy the greatest thing the Internet ever gave to mankind. It's just another sad double standard that governments around the world love to employ.
The one hope left is that news of the secret ballot gets out. The anti-ACTA protests have been a little on the slow side now that all of Europe is rightly concerned with the current debt crisis. A treaty like ACTA would do nothing to help grow the economy, so here's hoping that the citizenry understands that and responds appropriately.
ACTA news has been slow coming, once again due to the debt crisis, but we'll keep watching the situation. It looks like the vote will be coming to a head soon and we'll be here to let you know what happens to SOPA's big international daddy.