John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

EU Data Protection Chief: Beware the ACTA

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement being negotiated behind a veil of secrecy by the United States, European Union, Japan and a host of other countries is a potentially onerous one. That’s the gist of a 20-page memo issued today by Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, who is clearly appalled by what he read in the portion of the draft of the agreement leaked to the Web last week (PDF).

In his memo, Hustinx criticizes the secrecy of the talks from which ACTA arose and worries that as an international treaty to fight digital piracy, the agreement is in danger of running afoul of European Union privacy and data protection law requirements.

“Privacy and data protection must be taken into account from the very beginning of the negotiations, not when the schemes and procedures have been defined and agreed and it is therefore too late to find alternative, privacy compliant solutions,” Hustinx wrote.

“While intellectual property is important to society and must be protected,” he added, “it should not be placed above individuals’ fundamental rights to privacy, data protection, and other rights such as presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.”

Evidently, that’s exactly where IP has been placed in the current draft of ACTA, which seems to be designed to encourage ISPs to monitor their customers’ Internet use for illegal file-sharing and potentially, to blackball repeat offenders on their networks.

“Insofar as the current draft of ACTA includes or at least indirectly pushes for three strikes Internet disconnection policies, ACTA would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens, most notably the protection of personal data and privacy,” Hustinx wrote.

“The EDPS takes the view that three strikes Internet disconnection policies are not necessary to achieve the purpose of enforcing intellectual property rights,” he concluded. “The EDPS is convinced that alternative, less intrusive solutions exist or, at least, that the envisaged policies can be performed in a less intrusive manner or at a more limited scope, notably through the form of targeted ad hoc monitoring.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik