CETA trade agreement text leaked, confirms threats to our freedoms

On August 14th, 2014, the website of the German show Tagesschau published a trade agreement between the European Union and Canada [de] called CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement)1. This text, which had been discussed for several years, was finalized over the past few months without any of its content being known. While the agreement must soon be signed by the 28 Member States of the European Union, this leak enables us to know its content more precisely.

Thus, we find paragraphs there which are similar to some of those in ACTA [fr]—the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement which was rejected by the European Parliament in 20122. Indeed, the text includes (page 341) a sacralization of DRM, the digital handcuffs which restrict users in the use of works that they however have legally acquired.

"5.3(1) Each Party shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by authors, performers or producers of phonograms in connection with the exercise of their rights in, and that restrict acts in respect of, their works, performances, and phonograms, which are not authorized by the authors, the performers or the producers of phonograms concerned or permitted by law."

By the same token, the right to interoperability is expressly denied (page 342). Even though it is mentioned in the context of DRM interoperability, April regrets that this reference is the only one:

"5.3(3) In implementing paragraphs 5.3(1) and (2), no Party shall be obligated to require that the design of, or the design and selection of parts and components for, a consumer electronics, telecommunications, or computing product provide for a response to any particular technological measure, so long as the product does not otherwise contravene its measures implementing these paragraphs. The intention of this provision is that this Agreement does not require a Party to mandate interoperability in its law, i.e., there is no obligation for the ICT (Information Communication Technology) industry to design devices, products, components, or services to correspond to certain technological protection measures"

Finally, no mention is made of the decompilation exception.

More broadly, the text sets up a new system of dispute settlement, the ISDS (Investor - States Dispute Settlement), which circumvents the national and European courts and eliminates all the safeguards ensuring the respect of fundamental rights. For the sake of increasing commercial exchanges between the European Union and Canada, signing the agreement would allow large companies to appeal to a private justice in order to enforce their interests, without going through an independent judicial court. The abuses of this type of system are, however, many, as April already pointed out, in its response to the European Commission's consultation on the establishment of the same mechanism for the TTIP trade agreement (also know as TAFTA).

April calls for the withdrawal of the European Union from these negotiations, and for complete transparency on the issue. These leaks confirm the dangers of the international agreements now being negotiated, and underscore that such international agreements should not be made without both parliamentary and public debates. April renews its call for the European Commission and all institutions involved to abandon these anti-democratic negotiations.