Online and offline protests against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are gathering pace, with a whole swathe set to take place on the official Stop ACTA day tomorrow, Saturday 11th February.
Like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA threatens the internet as we know it, potentially turning internet service providers and website owners into a private police force. On top of that its loose wording could lead to a mass misuse of the act, leading to huge fines based around invented figures of "lost profits."
However all is not bleak, as the internet using populace of the world - and Europe in particular - has announced its distaste in a dramatic fashion. Tomorrow, as part of the official Stop ACTA day, there will be several protests throughout the country with many, many more going on in Europe. There's a regularly updated map with details on each of the protests, with the main ones in the UK being held in Birmingham, London, Nottingham and Manchester. In contrast, across France, Germany and other countries there are hundreds of protests planned.
Many organisations are looking to help correlate information and the best ways to help the protest. At the moment, LaQuadrature is encouraging everyone to contact their local MPs and their country's representative of the Committee on International Trade. That group is currently formulating a report for European politicians and if enough people voice their concerns over ACTA, it has the potential to recommend Members of European Parliament (MEPs) reject ACTA when it's voted on sometime in June this year.
The website linked to above contains phone numbers and email addresses for representatives, allowing for varied communication options. LaQuadrature has a list of the main points to address when doing so:
- ACTA turns Internet companies (ISPs, service providers) into a private copyright police by forcing to take legal responsibility for what their users do online.
- ACTA brings broad and dangerous criminal sanctions in a loosely defined way.
- ACTA bypasses democracy and opens the door to a parallel legislative process, which the European MPs should be particularly angry about.
But what if you want to do a little more? Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and any other social circles you have. Get people to protests, contact your national and local newspapers and help raise awareness of how ACTA would change the face of the internet as we know it.
For those still a little unsure of how it is ACTA would affect the world and the internet, the most succinct piece on it is the following video. It discusses the bigger impact beyond that of simply blocking our favourite Youtube remixes. It could lead to the prevention of generic drugs being sold and free speech itself could be threatened.
It sounds dramatic, but it's that important this is stopped.