by Rick Falkvinge
July 4, 2012
Today at 12:56 CET, the European Parliament
decided whether ACTA would be ultimately rejected or whether it would drag
on into uncertainty. In a 478 to 39 vote, the Parliament decided to reject
ACTA once and for all. This means that the deceptive treaty is now dead
This is a day of celebration.
This is the day when citizens of Europe and the world won over unelected
bureaucrats who were being wooed and lobbied by the richest corporations of
The battleground wasn’t some administrative office, but the representatives
of the people - the European Parliament - which decided in the end to do its
job beautifully, and represent the people against special interests.
The road to today’s victory was hard and by no means certain.
478 against, 39 in favor and 165 abstentions
What lead us here?
Six months ago, the situation looked very dark. It was all but certain that
ACTA would pass unnoticed in silence.
The forces fighting for citizens’ rights tried
to have it referred to the European Court of Justice in order to test its
legality and to buy some time. But then, something happened.
A monster by the name of SOPA appeared in the United States.
Thousands of websites went dark on January 18
and millions of voices cried out, leaving Congress shell-shocked over the
fact that citizens can get that level of pissed off at corporate special
SOPA was killed...
In the wake of this, as citizens realized that
they don’t need to take that kind of corporate abuse lying down and asking
for more, the community floodlights centered on ACTA.
The activism carried over beautifully to defeat this monster. Early
February, there were rallies all over Europe, leaving the European
Parliament equally shell-shocked.
The party groups turned on a cent and declared their opposition to ACTA in
solidarity with the citizen rallies all over the continent, after having
realized what a piece of shameless mail-order legislation it really was, to
the horrors of the corporate shills who thought this was a done deal. Those
shills tried, tried hard, tried right up until today, to postpone the vote
on ACTA past the attention of the public and the activists.
Alas, they don’t understand the net. And there’s one key thing right there:
the net doesn’t forget.
Parliament members right
after the vote
But the key takeaway here is that it was us, the
activists, that made this happen.
Everyone in the European Parliament are taking
turns to praise all the activists across Europe and the world for drawing
their attention to what utter garbage this really was, not some
run-of-the-mill rubberstamp paper, but actually a really dangerous piece of
proposed legislation. Everybody thanks the activists for that. Yes, that’s
you. You should lean back, smile, and pat yourself on the back here.
Each and every one of us has every reason to
feel proud today.
What comes next?
In theory, ACTA could still come into force between
the United States and a
number of smaller states. Ten states have been negotiating it, and six of
those need to ratify it to have it come into force.
In theory, this could become a treaty between,
the United States
(But wait, the
Mexican Senate has already
rejected ACTA. As has
Switzerland in practice. Oh well… a
treaty between the United States and Morocco, then, in
the unlikely event
that the United States will actually and formally ratify it. You can see
where this is going.)
described before, without the support of the European
Union, ACTA is dead. Doesn’t exist.
The European Commissioner responsible for the treaty, Karel de Gucht, has
said that he will ignore any rejections and re-table it before the European
Parliament until it passes. That’s not going to happen. Parliament takes its
dignity very seriously and does not tolerate that kind of contempt,
This is something relatively new in the history
of the European Union’s democracy - the first time I saw Parliament stand up
for its dignity was during the Telecoms Package, where the Commission also
tried to ram through three-strikes provisions. (Instead, Parliament made
“three strikes” schemes illegal in the entire European Union.)
That said, many of the bad things in ACTA will return under other names. For
the lobbyists, this is a nine-to-five job of jabbing against the legislation
until it gives way. Just another day at work. We need to remain vigilant
against special interests who will return again, again, and again, until we
make sure that the legislative road for them is completely blocked. We must
But not today.
Today, we celebrate a job extraordinarily
Today, on July 4, Europe celebrates a day of independence from
American special interests.
Today, we stood up for our most basic rights against corporate giants,
Congratulations to all of us, and thanks to all
brothers and sisters on the barricades across the world who made this