Discussions over the highly contentious Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) have begun again in Switzerland today amid renewed calls from rights group for the agreement to be shelved.
La Quadrature du Net, a French advocacy group and leading opponent of ACTA, argued that the discussions needed to be open and transparent to ensure a fair deal for citizens and that the current situation had to end.
"The ACTA negotiators play with repressive legislation attacking our freedoms like others play poker. It is urgent to react and hold them accountable," said co-founder of La Quadrature, Jérémie Zimmermann.
"Otherwise, we would implicitly accept that the future of the internet is negotiated behind closed doors rather than democratically debated. The ACTA casino must be closed."
Last week, La Quadrature leaked a document that outlined proposals that would be discussed at the ACTA talks including the idea of making it a criminal offence to "incite, aid and abet" copyright infringement.
Speaking at the time, Zimmerman said this was "a notion so broad it could cover any internet service or speech questioning copyright policies".
La Quadrature said its members had met with negotiators from several countries involved over the weekend and that they were alarmed to find that the negotiators did not consider the proposed agreement to go beyond the limits of EU law.
The Open Rights Group also voiced its concern over the ACTA discussions, with executive director Jim Killock warning it could usher in an era of digital surveillance.
"Internet surveillance for copyright infringement could become the norm under ACTA. Harsher punishments for civil offences are being laundered through this treaty," he said.
"We are calling for the treaty to be restricted to genuine counterfeiting, and not to general copyright and patent issues, which as drafted would effect everyone in very negative ways."
He also added that opposition has been growing from countries that have been excluded from the discussions, including India, China and Brazil.
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