April's president asks MEPs to oppose ACTA


On 29 May 2012 Lionel Allorge, president of April, wrote to MEPs in ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy), JURI (Legal affairs) and LIBE (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) asking them to oppose ACTA. Visit the website of La Quadrature du Net for more information about the votes scheduled this week.

The text of these letters (this one was sent to LIBE committee) :

Dear members of the European Parliament,

You will have to vote in Committee on the "Anti-Counterfeiting" Trade Agreement (ACTA) this week. As April's President, I would like to share my concerns regarding the many threats ACTA represents for the community of free software authors, users and companies. For years, April has been stating its concerns regarding this agreement.

Many clauses in this text are toxic, both because of the lack of precision in ACTA and because it will block any legislative improvement regarding digital rights management tools in international law.

Indeed, the text mentions in a non-restrictive paragraph that bypassing these "digital cuffs" must be forbidden by law. This would lead to unacceptable restrictions of one's freedom, and results in stopping citizens from doing what they want with products they bought for themselves. This interference in privacy and this control issues are unjustifiable breaches to individual rights. It also restricts everyone's right to choose which tools to use, favouring the technological lock-in against which European Institutions have already spoken many times1. Accepting that such blocking tools could be put in place amounts to make ourselves dependent from the whims of a few companies and can only increase the censorship risk, against which the European Parliament has spoken against repeatedly.

ACTA's legal uncertainties will threaten Free Software and the IT worl, and will have highly negative consequences in terms of innovation, especially since the Free Software ecosystem is sensitive to such legal risks. The adoption of this agreement by the UE would only hinder the next technological revolutions in Europe and will put European companies and the European economy at a disadvantage on global markets.

Similarly, the criminal sanctions against technical intermediaries proposed in the text represent a serious danger to freedoms. The new penal sanctions that ACTA would create would indeed lead to surveillance and censorship of online communications, which amounts to an unacceptable limitation to freedom of speech. Whereas the European Parliament spoke many times in favour of fundamental freedom on the Internet, ACTA would undermine these essential democratic principles.

I also share the concerns expressed by La Quadrature du Net and UFC-Que Choisir (a BEUC member) on the restrictions of freedom of expression online, legal uncertainties for internet actors, restrictions on consummers rights and basic freedoms.

For all the reasons above, I am asking you to reject this agreement during the vote in Committee. by voting in favor of Dimitrios Droutsas's report, you will ensure the respect/observance ? of basic freedoms for all citizens, including internet freedoms.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information.

Sincerely yours,

Lionel Allorge, President, April