Malta Labour Party: ACTA Too Vague

Malta's Labour Party spokesman Michael Farrugia has told Malta Today that the Anti-Counterfeit Trading Agreement (ACTA) is too vague and, as a result, could do damage to generic pharmaceutical companies in Malta and Europe and infringe on Internet freedoms. He also complains about how the treaty was negotiated in a secretive and exclusive manner.

“ACTA was not negotiated at an inclusive multilateral forum, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO),” Farrugia said. “ACTA is intended to go beyond former agreements and the signed version of the ACTA contains words which are not clear and could be misconstrued to encompass various things,” Farrugia said.

Farrugia went on to say that privacy and personal expression of internet users could be affected.

"The Labour Party and its MEPS have voiced their reservations about the agreement, and voted in favour of a resolution move by European Parliament political groups – except the European People’s Party (EPP) – to amend the current version being signed which is still very vague," Farrugia said.

He also claims that Internet Service Providers could be held liable for "illegitimate material hosted and data transferred across their service." Farrugia added that certain provisions should be clarified.

"The ACTA could go against the agreements made with the WTO because it would be working outside of the legal frameworks. We already have the TRIPS agreement and the Doha declaration as tools against counterfeit medicines. The tools are all there. ACTA is vague and could place generic pharmaceuticals on the counterfeit list. This could be a threat to companies who provide generic pharmaceuticals which are cheaper than but just as effective as their brand-name counterparts."

He also took issue with Finance Minister Tonio Fenech’s claims that the Labour Party had no objection to the agreement when it was presented to the Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) in July.

"The version of the ACTA document put forward to MUESAC was not the final version of the document and we could not debate it properly," Farrugia said.

“There has been a lack of transparency with different versions continuously cropping up since MEUSAC’s meeting on the matter in July. All MEPs within the EU parliament had requested that all changes and progress since the original document should be put down on the table but this was refused,” Farrugia said. “When the issue was brought forward we had a whole discussion about it but there was no real final document to be discussed since the ACTA was being considered at EU level, not local. MEPs put forward a request that all the different versions of the documents be placed on the table along with the final version of the ACTA."

On the question of file-sharing being decriminalized, Farrugia said: “The internet serves many purposes. ISPs are being asked to delve into everyone’s information and be held responsible for any illegal content. It is a dangerous situation because if anyone is harmed personally by any content on the internet which was allowed by an ISP, individuals will be given the facility to go directly to the ISP for information instead of going through the courts meaning data protection would no longer be applicable.”

Source: Malta Today

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