Bulgarian EconMin Presents Official Cabinet Stand on ACTA

Domestic | February 14, 2012, Tuesday // 09:23|  views

Mass protest rallies against the controversial international Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement, ACTA, were organized in 15-16 Bulgarian cities and in 150 cities across Europe Saturday. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Minister of Economy and Energy, Traicho Traikov, is presenting Tuesday the official position of his institution on the controversial international Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement, ACTA.

It emerged Monday that the government will sign ACTA with reservations regarding spying on internet users or will withdraw its support entirely.

Legal experts have advised that Bulgaria will not endure serious consequences if it gives up on the agreement despite having signing it already. Meanwhile, the global hackers group Anonymous send a warning message to Bulgarian authorities in case it ratifies ACTA.

The European Commission defended the agreement aimed at countering online piracy from accusations it would lead to a "witch hunt" on the web, and confirmed it would try to pass it in the European Parliament by the end of the month.

Mass protest rallies against ACTA, were organized in 15-16 Bulgarian cities and in 150 cities across Europe Saturday.

On January 26, the Bulgarian government signed in Tokyo the international ACTA agreement, vowing to make downloading content similar to forgery of brands.

The agreement was sealed by Bulgarian ambassador to Japan Lyubomir Todorov, based on a decision by the Bulgarian cabinet taken hastily on January 11.

22 out of the 27 EU member states have signed ACTA, along with countries such as the USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Switzerland.

Among EU Member States, Germany, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia and the Netherlands have postponed their signing.

ACTA, abbreviation for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, mandates that signatory countries implement legislation to criminalize certain types of downloading content such as music and movies, from sites not sanctioned by rights owners, such as torrent trackers.

According to the agreement, such actions will be classified as similar to counterfeiting, and will carry heavier sanctions, including confiscation.

The treaty also will require Internet providers to provide information about the traffic of their users.

In order to become effective in Bulgaria, ACTA must first be ratified by the European Parliament and then by the Bulgarian Parliament, which is expected to happen no earlier than June.

Transcripts from the meeting of the Council of Ministers from January 11 reveal that it had been Traikov, who had made the proposal.

Ever since the signing, ACTA stirred much discontent in Bulgaria, both because it had not been discussed by the cabinet and because the public had been kept entirely in the dark about the decision to sign it, until prominent Bulgarian bloggers and lawyers stirred large-scale noise about it. They lashed out at the signing of ACTA over their belief the agreement will bind countries to install legal regulations that excessively and unduly broadly penalize Internet users.

At the beginning of February, two Bulgarian NGOs – of Internet users and Internet service providers reached a handshake deal with the government in which Prime Minister Boyko Borisov promises that Bulgaria will ratify the ACTA with reservations.

Supporters of the treaty argue that the measures are necessary to clamp down on growing levels of piracy.

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Tags: sofia, marches, protests, rallies, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, proposal, ACTA, Internet, piracy, Japan, counterfeit, forgery, download, music, movies, torrent, European parliament, GERB, NGOs, hacker group, anonymous, warning, message


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