European Parliament produced fruitful discussion on the Internet issues and in particularly ACTA

The first meeting was held on Tuesday, based on ´New forms of online advertising´, as current trademark laws are complex and impose particular burden on SME´s (Small-medium enterprises). European Commission is proposing to harmonise trademark regulations acrossEurope, between different national laws. So that small and medium size companies could take full advantage of access to the global market that the Internet offers. 

The same day Green Group discussed potential initiative for the ´Internet Bill of Rights´, which would act as a signal to which principles Green group adheres to. The idea of ´Internet Bill of Rights´ comes from publics rising concerns regarding government surveillance of the Internet. This has motivated many of the mainstream politicians to jump on the ´Internet issue´ bandwagon, which means that not only members of the Pirate Party will look after the online interests of the European citizens, but also many other politicians from the mainstream parties will take more active role in deliberations. By no means is this a negative outcome, as long as politicians fully understand the issues they are voting on, it should make the debate more democratic. Bringing digital issues to the fore of the agenda, was one of the initial objectives for the Pirate party.

The best example of how popular feelings regarding the Internet have affected mainstream politics is best displayed by ACTA debate. The rapporteur for ACTA responsible committee INTA (International Trade) S&D MEP David Martin switched positions and has indicated that he will now recommend a ´no´ vote, with a Pirate Party MEP Ms Amelia´s Andersdotter´s committee ITRA (Industry, Research and Energy) also providing a ´no´ opinion to the INTA. While committee on Development, DEVE, is said to provide consent for ACTA. While, LIBE (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) and JURI (Legal Affairs) are still left to decide on their final opinion. A vote to European Parliament should be put forward by July, thus still expect a lot of heated discussions and debates to come. As a ´no´ vote would break an International Agreement which took years to agree and consumed plenty of effort to keep the negotiations secret from the public eyes.

There has already been a lot said in regards to ACTA, with so many people participating in the debate that its difficult to add anything fruitful. However, what we can confidently understand about ACTA is that it deals primarily with the Intellectual Property Rights, IPR affect a wide range of sectors, from healthcare, luxury to entertainments industry. Internet was not primarily an issue for ACTA, but because we share content online, it touches upon copyright laws. This is where potential dangers of ACTA towards the future of Internet development really kicks-in, it would allow copyright owners of music and video content to destabilise the growth of social media. The size of digital content online has only been expanding, which indicates that the copyright laws are trusted. However, ACTA´s draconian laws would potentially undermine online world by putting a stop to content sharing and the growth of digital economy. Other negative affects would be an increase in barriers of entry to market for many entrepreneurs, as many innovative products would be put under threat, hurting the whole SME industry, as well as many other negative implications freedom of expression

The last event of the week was discussion of ´Human Rights on the Internet, perspectives fromTunisiaand Syria´, the issue has become extremely dominant as companies and NGO´s have increasingly important role to play in making sure that Human Rights are not infringed by government use of modern communication technologies. Western companies in case of Tunisia and Syria have supplied technology to governments for Internet censorship, while for some companies it has been primary source of income. This invoked calls for requirement for far stricter regulations on supply of surveillance technologies to authoritarian regimes, by organising MEP Marietje Schaake. Representative from Nokia-Siemens networks were also present to explain practical details of supplying IT technologies. Country discussed wasIran, where trade with Iranians is being ceased now due to Human Rights violations.

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