The European Union has released details of its negotiations on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and has stated that it will not affect civil liberties.
The briefing document (PDF) covers the two rounds of negotiations that have already been held, and seeks to reassure people that there will be no measures in the treaty that will harm civil liberties or privacy.
"ACTA is not designed to negatively affect consumers: the EU legislation (2003 Customs Regulation) has a de minimis clause that exempts travellers from checks if the infringing goods are not part of large-scale traffic," it states.
"EU customs, frequently confronted with traffics of drugs, weapons or people, neither have the time nor the legal basis to look for a couple of pirated songs on an iPod music player or laptop computer, and there is no intention to change this."
The ACTA negotiations are being held by representatives from Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the US.
The talks had been shrouded in secrecy and only came to light after documents were leaked to the Wikileaks web site. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is now suing the US government for details of its stance in the negotiations.
Some of the proposals under discussion involve handing over internet use details to media companies without proof of wrongdoing, and using customs officers to enforce copyright protection.
But the EU briefing documents claim that the measures under discussion are to be used only against large-scale traffickers in stolen intellectual property, and not against individuals.
"It is alleged that the negotiations are undertaken under a veil of secrecy. This is not correct," the document continues.
"For reasons of efficiency, it is only natural that intergovernmental negotiations dealing with issues that have an economic impact do not take place in public and that negotiators are bound by a certain level of discretion."
The next round of negotiation will take place this weekend in Japan.
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