“Don’t forget to be against ACTA” – with these half-humorous words organisers of the anti-ACTA protest closed the demonstration that took place on June 9, 2012, in Berlin. On the European Action Day Against ACTA, around 500 people walked through Berlin streets in a march against the controversial anti-counterfeiting agreement that is believed to impose new criminal sanctions forcing Internet actors to monitor and censor online communications.
So far, 30 countries have signed ACTA, but it is the European Parliament that has the final say on whether the agreement will come into effect. The voting is supposed to take place on the plenary session in the beginning of July.
They say ACTA is dead
At the first sight, the relatively modest number of protesters may seem a bit disappointing compared to many thousands of protesters that took to the streets in February. Have people forgotten about ACTA?
One doesn't have to look far for possible answers. Besides the fact that the European Football Championship is stealing almost all of the attention these days, there is a strong belief that ACTA is dead and the worst danger is over. On the website of the European Digital Rights organization one could read this on June 9:
After all of the announcements of ACTA's death, one would wonder why anybody would have felt the need to turn up to the anti-ACTA demonstrations today. In April, the European Parliamentarian in charge of the ACTA dossier said that ACTA was dead. In May, the European Commissioner for the Information Society, Neelie Kroes, said that ACTA was dead. Now, in June, four different European Parliament Committees rejected ACTA. Was tumbleweed going to be the only participant at the ACTA demonstrations?
So much the more positive is the fact that thousands of people across Europe and several hundreds in Germany went on the streets to send yet another signal to the politicians and a reminder for the society. A German activist and blogger, mspr0, who was present at the demonstration, wrote [de] on his blog on June 8:
I know it seems that it's all over and done now. But it's not. In the background they are trying to rescue what is left to rescue and we need to send a clear signal.
Why was ACTA a good idea?
Besides mspr0, there were several other activists speaking at the manifestation. Peter Sunde, co-founder of the Pirate Bay and Flattr, introduced Henrik Chulu from a Danish digital rights organisation Bitbureauet.
In the video below, posted on YouTube on June 10 by the author of this post, you can see Henrik talking about the importance of staying vigilant, as ACTA is not the last bill that we will be confronted with. He also pointed out that the agreement did something good for Europe by remindidng us of how fragile and important internet freedom is and causing people to get politically engaged and stand up for their digital rights.
The European Anti-ACTA Action Day is over, but the voting in the EP is still on the agenda. It's good to know that netizens are keeping an eye on the parliamentarians, even if they are “just” a couple of hundreds activists. We've seen already that, if needed, they are able to motivate hundreds of thousands.