By Peter Bright
Anger at last month’s decision by the European Union and 22 of its member states to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has led to widespread protests, hacked Web sites, and legislators backing away from the treaty.
The anti-ACTA protests that saw Polish politicians don Guy Fawkes masks in parliament have borne fruit. After experiencing a considerable backlash in Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk has suspended ratification of the controversial agreement, acknowledging that the consultation surrounding it was inadequate and that he approached it from a “20th century perspective.”
The ACTA agreement has been signed already by an EU representative and ambassadors from 22 of the EU’s 27 member states. However, due to its potential influence on criminal law, it also needs ratification by the governments of each of those member states. If even a single member state does not ratify, the agreement will not enter into force anywhere in the EU.
Such a rejection is now a distinct possibility.
Anti-ACTA protests, meanwhile, have spread. The Greek Ministry of Justice had its Web site defaced by Greek and Cypriot Anonymous-affiliated hackers (a mirror of the defaced site is available here). The hackers included a video message (now removed) complaining that the Greek government had abandoned the democratic will of its people and was instead bending to the will of the IMF and the EU.
Greece is expected to accept IMF funds in an effort to allow its government to bring some semblance of sustainability to its finances, but Anonymous believes that this move will “introduce a new dictatorship upon [the Greek] people’s shoulders and allow the bankers and the monarchs of the EU to enslave them both economically and politically.”
The defaced site itself focused on an anti-ACTA message. It warned that Greece had two weeks to “stop ACTA,” and that if it failed to do so, some 300 sites would be defaced. The next targets will include both media and ministry sites, with the hackers announcing that they already had passwords for most sites and that this was “JUST the BEGINING [sic].”
The wearing of the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks by parliamentarians has also spread, with politicians in Bulgaria posing for photographs while holding the masks to their faces.
Others are also distancing themselves from the treaty. On Tuesday, Helena Drnovšek Zorko, the Slovenian ambassador to Japan who signed ACTA on Slovenia’s behalf, offered an alarming explanation of why she signed. In the lengthy blog post, she claims that signing was an act of “civic carelessness” that will limit the “future of our children,” adding that she was carried out her “official duty” but had neglected to do her “civic duty.”
Anti-ACTA protests are scheduled to take place in Slovenian capital Ljubljana on Saturday.