2007 – 2011
Negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) begin. ACTA aims at standardising international enforcement of intellectual property rights, establishing an international legal framework for countries to join voluntarily.
ACTA is finalized on April 15 2011 by Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, and the USA.
The Agreement is the subject of heavy criticism since the beginning of its negotiations for its alleged high level of secrecy and dubious lawfulness.
ACTA becomes open for countries to adopt from 1 May 2011. The official text of ACTA is released to the public for the first time.
Opponents of the Agreement warn that ACTA would enable censorship of the Internet, as it would impose sanctions that could see Internet service providers monitor and censor online communications in search of copyrighted material.
ACTA is signed by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the USA.
ACTA is signed by 25 of the 27 EU countries on 26 January 2012 in Tokio, Japan. The only EU countries not to sign ACTA are Germany, Cyprus, Estonia, the Netherlands and Slovakia.
Massive protests against ACTA break out throughout Europe, with Anonymous attacking government websites, while several other websites black out their sites in protest.
Under the pressure several EU Member States, among them Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Latvia and Bulgaria withdraw their support of ACTA, while Germany refuses to ratify the controversial treaty.
Before it can be enforced in the EU, ACTA must be ratified by all 27 EU Member States and must pass through the EU parliament.
To facilitate the debate on ACTA, the European Commission refers the Agreement to the European Court of Justice, so that the Court may examine whether it is incompatible with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms.
ACTA is rejected by the European Parliament on 4 July 2012 and consequently cannot became law in the EU. 478 MEPs vote against ACTA, 39 in favour, and 165 abstain.
The official press release reads that “Parliament experienced unprecedented direct lobbying by thousands of EU citizens who called on it to reject ACTA, in street demonstrations, e-mails to MEPs and calls to their offices. Parliament also received a petition, signed by 2.8 million citizens worldwide, urging it to reject the agreement.”
Reports emerge that the European Commission may nevertheless try to implement the provisions of the rejected ACTA by EU using the Canada – EU Trade Agreement (CETA), nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the controversial provisions of ACTA.