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EC digital chief Neelie Kroes accepts ACTA set to fail in wake of online protests

04 May 2012

The European Commission's (EC) head of the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, has warned member states they must begin planning for a world without the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

Kroes issued her warning during a speech in Berlin in which she noted that given the public backlash against ACTA, the bill will likely be rejected by the European Parliament later this year.

"We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet," said Kroes.

"We are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and without ACTA."

Kroes claimed that while she agreed with the notion of an open internet, she did not agree it should be lawless.

"We need to find solutions to make the internet a place of freedom, openness, and innovation fit for all citizens, not just for the techno avant-garde."

She added that protective measures will still have to be implemented to ensure the internet becomes a place for innovation as opposed to a safe haven for criminals.

"Like it or not, people sometimes use online tools to conspire for horrific crimes like murder or child abuse. Others launch cyber-attacks to breach or destabilise internet systems," said Kroes.

"I know that this is the tiny minority of online activity. And I know that we cannot overreact: as in other fields of life, we must balance liberty and security. But neither can we ignore it. The internet has become too important to just leave its future to good fortune."

Kroes comments follow on from her previous insistence that Europe needs to avoid taking a totalitarian military approach to policing the internet, a sentiment she most recently expressed during her opening keynote at InfoSec in April.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

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