back to article Brussels data watchdog cries foul over secret copyright talks

The man charged with protecting EU citizens' personal data and privacy has protested at being frozen out of secret negotiations to tighten international copyright law online. Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, spoke out after a draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) leaked on Friday. It …


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  1. David Haworth 1

    AM I missing something?

    Why is everyone banging on (only) about the right to privacy and data protection? Whatever happened to presumption of innocence, a fair trial and the right to confront one's accusers?

    Give me a trial by a jury of my peers - and don't forget this is a peer-to-peer network (*groan*)

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Alas, fail..

    See, anyone who is about protecting the public's *anything* has no place near the ACTA talks. The whole idea is to circumvent those people and those they represent, because they are obviously not the highest bidder.

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Someone talking sense

    Good for him - these secret talks are an affront to democracy and the whole '3 strikes' regime is unacceptable from 1st principles:

    Basically, it makes the ISP subscriber liable for the abuse of their connection, so they are liable for flaws in, for example, WEP encryption should that be all their system supports, for compromise of their PC due to MS & Adobe's flaws, for routers that could be hijacked as the ISP had them supplied with default name & password, etc, etc.

    Why should a 'end user' be held liable for things the suppliers wiggle out of by EULA and so on? If they are to be held liable for system security (not a bad thing in itself), then we need strong consumer protection laws to make suppliers liable for holes. Of course, to do so retrospectively as these proposed changes to the law won't include the age of hardware/software when asking a user if they are guilty.

    Then we have the lack of due legal process, and the presumption of guilt (if accused, you have to prove your innocence), the lack of penalties for the copyright holders making mistakes and screwing around with innocent people's lives, etc.

    Finally, why is no one asking the copyright holders why, a decade after they shut Napster, they have still failed to offer material at a cost and convenience that is acceptable? The Internet has changed content distribution and perceived value fundamentally, and they have missed the chances to adapt to this.

    As El Reg has pointed out before, most folk would be willing to pay a few quid a month more for legal and easy access to what they want. Why not make file-sharing legal and add a 10% tax to be distributed to those who's material is shared? Illegal sharing solved, copyright holders better off than today, no mass surveillance, etc, needed!

  4. TimeMaster T
    Big Brother


    I can't help but admire the subtle genius of the media companies and governments. As I understand it, if a treaty is put into effect it can require signatories to implement new regulations or even impose binding legal restrictions and behaviors on the treaty signatories, "laws" for all intent and purpose, passed without the public having a chance voice opposition.

    So, a population votes down all attempts to make singing opera to pigs illegal. Government secretly gets a "no singing opera to pigs" mandate in a trade treaty and ratifies the treaty. Suddenly it is illegal for the people to sing opera to pigs irregardless of how they voted in the elections because treaties trump national laws.

    And all the elected representatives can say "I had nothing to do with it!" when its time for re-election.


    This is a great way to strip rights and freedoms from people without giving them any kind of opportunity to fight it.

    My understanding or treaties may be flawed, and I really hope it is.

    Big Bro', cause this is how he's making it happen.

  5. Busby

    A title is required and must contain blah blah blah

    "Hustinx today said ACTA could mean "three strikes" or "graduated response" policies - where ISPs restrict internet access to those accused of infringing copyright by filesharing"

    Anyone else read that to mean access will be restricted to only those accused of filesharing? No just me then, right I'll get my coat.

  6. Watashi


    "It showed plans to make ISPs liable under civil law for the content of traffic."

    So, ISPs are going to become the privately owned police force of the internet, with the power to cut off anyone they don't like and take a better-safe-than-sorry attitude towards any data that may possibly contain illegal material. That's one hell of a slippery slope. Interested in anti-Western politics? Strike one. Want to look at art containing nudity? Strike two. Want to criticise the ISPs censoring the web? Strike three - no more internet for you. And you've not even done anyhthing illegal, just risked the ISP becoming liable for a possible future illegal activition.

    So, who can British citizens rely upon to ensure we are not descriminated against? Those pathetic establishment toadies working at Ofcom!

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      More: WTF?

      "It showed plans to make ISPs liable under civil law for the content of traffic."

      In a way that telephone companies and postal services aren't. Coz, like, everyone knows crooks don't use phones and never send dodgy stuff through the post.

      The appropriate way for ISPs to protest here is to pro-actively and defensively cut-off anyone associated with the governing party, on the grounds that since they've subverted the democratic process once (with these treaty negotiations) they clearly can't be trusted no to do it again and the ISP is damned if it is going to be associated with subversives.

      Y'know, just in case?

  7. Mystic Megabyte

    The internet was nice while it lasted!

    By analogy, some houses contain illegal or illicit material. Therefore the law must be changed to allow searching every house every day.

    Our so called government do not seem to doing their job by failing to protect us from rampant capitalism, warmongering criminals and massive online fraud.

    Does anyone remember John Wyndham's "The Midwich Cuckoos"?

    In the story when they realised that the only way to eliminate the alien children was to nuke Southampton all the political parties were trying to lose the election.

    Is there something they are not telling us?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hear, hear.

    To me, the only way governments can retain the last shreds of integrity and believability is to summarily ditch ACTA and refrain from trying any such thing ever again. Apart from that, always good to hear from Hustinx, even if it shows how powerless he really is, just like any other citizen, in the face of the full onslaught of effectively uncontrollable back room politicking.

    Perhaps worth remembering that the ACTA secrecy is brought to you courtesy the letters U, S, and A, with a backdrop of a French-gifted green doll supposedly embodying or symbolising something or other.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Counterfeit Treaty not Coffee treaty, not Colonic Treaty

    It's a COUNTERFEIT treaty, not a COPYRIGHT treaty, not a treaty about COFFEE COLONICS, a COUNTERFEIT treaty.

    And the EU Commission cannot argue that it has a mandate to negotiate a treaty on coffee colonics just because they both begin with 'C'.

    So it's not that we can start with whatever treaty they produce, it needs to be binned and restarted within the proper democratic process.

    If you want people to bend over and force coffee into the rectums, then they'd better be a consensus, just because the coffee producers are having a hard time selling coffee right now, doesn't mean they can demand a secret treaty for 3 strikes and it's Arabica up the Anus.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      It may have started off a counterfeit treaty...

      ...but somewhere along the way copyright got included into the mix, which is where we all stand. Nobody really gives a toss about counterfeit DVDs of software coming in from the east. Clobber the bastards hard, maybe our on-the-shelf wares will be a little less pricey.

      But we DO care when such a sledgehammer approach is touted for something like downloading the latest Katy Perry song because it is totally disproportionate, as are the fines that groups such as the RIAA would like to levy per infringement. Maybe they are holding worldwide talks and shoving money into the mouths of greedy politicians because it would be a lot cheaper to criminalise on a whim, than to try to justify to a judge why it is such a big deal. After all, their attempts to shut down the known sharers have been met with limited success, and they can't really accuse average Joe of actively sharing because he might not even know his Torrent client shares (mmm, isn't sharing-back an obligatory part of Torrenting, anyway?).

      But, wait, it gets even better. I'm surprised El Reg hasn't reported on this (or did I miss it?). The rules will also counter trademark infringement.

      This might not sound like much, but consider... You're having a nice day out in a nearby town. You take a snapshot of the town square and upload it to flickr to drop into your blog posting entitled "My nice day out" (or something equally cheesy).

      Well, I can see WHSmith on the left there. And there's a Boots just behind it, and a PDSA Charity Shop across the road, and that's unmistakably the Golden Arches. Not to mention that super-cute chick who is waving at you (damn, why didn't you notice her earlier!) while proudly displaying an FCUK top.

      Cute girl may or may not have issue with being seen online. Hopefully not, it's a nice picture of her, but them you could always fire up your image editor and pixelate her face. But what about WHS/Boots/PDSA/McDo/FCUK? Not to mention the others. Do you have permission to publicise these trademarks? Do you need permission if it is part of a street shot? I would imagine none of the companies involved would be worried provided you aren't disparaging their image. But with the ACTA, a takedown *could* be issued for something as innocuous as that photo of your nice day out.

      From all accounts, ACTA is a massive disaster lurking. The best thing our useless self-serving piece of cack politicians could do (which means they won't...) is to slam the door on anything that doesn't pass through the normal open-bicker procedures of lawmaking. This super-secret nonsense has no place in supposedly civilised democratic nations unless we're trying to beat a known terrorist threat. But 9/11 and ripping off a movie... a difference in orders of magnitude.

      FAIL... America.

      FAIL... Australia.

      FAIL... Canada.

      FAIL... European Union.

      FAIL... France.

      FAIL... Japan.

      FAIL... Jordan.

      FAIL... Mexico.

      FAIL... Morocco.

      FAIL... New Zealand.

      FAIL... Republic of Korea.

      FAIL... Singapore.

      FAIL... United Arab Emirates.

      FAIL... United Kingdom.

      FAIL... United States (twice, as I bet this was their idea).

      I would like to request the moderator attach a whole row of FAIL icons for this, but seeing as it's unlikely to happen, you'll just have to use your imaginations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Counterfeit mandate

        Yet their mandate says they are to discuss a counterfeit treaty and they are discussing copyright infringements that have nothing to do with counterfeiting instead.

        So their mandate to discuss this is a COUNTERFEIT mandate. It's a FAKE mandate. It's a knock-off mandate, it has a label ACTA, but it's not the real ACTA, and they have no license to use ACTA where the 'c' stands for copyright.

        They are the GUCHI of the bag world, the GEOXE of the shoe world, the NOKEA of the phone worlds!

        They are committee pretending to be something they are not. And the first thing they need to do, is to stop themselves.

  10. irish donkey
    Black Helicopters

    Nothing to hide??

    But we are obliged by law to monitor your use of the internet.

    Oh and while we are at it...

    We will monitor and record your telephone calls

    We will monitor and record where you travel to in your car

    We will monitor and record where you go when you walk

    We will monitor and record where you spend your money

    We will monitor and record where your money comes from

    Of course this is all the fault of those damn terrorists... and of course we will make money out of it that's how the world works but rest assured we will let you know when you have to pay more.

    We are very good at telling you what you need and how much you can afford to pay for it. We are here to improve your experience.

    Thanks for playing: 1984! The Ultimate in Control

  11. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    For more on ACTA...

    ...and some great analyses besides, check this guy's website out:

    Each and every one of us should take the time to learn about this accursed treaty, and what it might mean for all of us. I find it more than a little disturbing that laws that will affect well over a billion citizens in dozens of countries are being conducted in secret, away from the eyes of any of the voters in any of these countries.

    This does not bode well…

  12. Marcel van Beurden


    There are many things I can say, but I leave it at this: this whole secret ACTA affair is a scandal for all democracies involved. Stop it.

  13. heyrick Silver badge

    Wham, bam, thank you mam...

    Maybe in the future we'll say "God bless the EU"...

    Just read the report, at:

    My interpretation of this is that if the proposals within ACTA are correct and are agreed (behind closed doors), then the moment it goes 'live', the whole shebang will be dragged around the ECHR and shot down in flames. It will be painful for everybody. It will be painful for the stupid politicians who implemented it, and it will be painful for us citizens as we've already seen that the government isn't above instructing its policing forces to break the law (re. ) so if this sorry excuse for legislation is declared illegal, I bet large chunks of it will still be enforced for a while to follow, with an "oh, oops" approach to screwing up people's lives.

    Living in the land where three-strikes is currently being tossed around officialdom, it is pleasing to read that, never mind French law, it is certainly considered disproportionate and potentially illegal under the provisions of the ECHR - not to mention the vast data-tracking that would be entailed.

    I am afraid I'm too cynical to think this will quietly fade away.

    I hope it does, not so much for my own rights and privacy as a netizen, but more specifically that there's not a lot of love for government players, and to see something like this unleashed after secret talks, then the chaos fallout as it gets torn apart, not to mention the weird grey area of people who may be in the process of pursuance under the provisions of ACTA... this sort of thing can bring down governments. It is not a big leap to ask "if they discussed THIS behind our backs and tried to pull THIS sh*t on us, what will be next?" and nobody will want to have that question answered as, well, it gets dangerously close to a vision as seen by Margaret Atwood.

  14. RW

    The thing that kills me.....

    It's *only* music and other entertainment. Hardly anything the world can't exist without. If the MPAA or the RIAA object to someone pirating their precious IP, then let them sue in the normal manner. Why on earth do governments think this is important enough to warrant special legislation, to say nothing of tearing down fundamental legal structures?

    How much manpower is wasted on piracy by governments that could be otherwise be busied with anti-terrorism matters? Remember, next time something blows up, it was in part because the people that could have stopped it in time were busy tracking down piracies of "Happy Birthday".

  15. Not Fred31

    Where is your article on the leaked ACTA...

    digital chapter...?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Anti -What ?

    Exactly what has alleged copyright infringement go to do with a supposed Anti - Counterfeiting treaty ?

  17. NRT

    You are all over reacting

    Lord Mandelson will never allow this to happen, he will protect us......

    Sorry, I just wanted to see if I could type that with a straight face.


  18. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    A minor point

    A treaty in itself isn't law and doesn't make law. And a government can sign a treaty and then ignore it. They last until they're broken, by one, some, or all of the parties.

    However, a law can be made, in the normal process, separately, that enforces a treaty in the jurisdiction where the law applies.

    It's also possible, apparently - but controversial - for Parliament to make a law that says that a government minister to make more laws "because I say so".

  19. irish donkey
    Thumb Down

    Went to the pictures this week........Bloody expensive

    And watched as a student was thrown out as he tried to have his picture taken with a cardboard cut-out of Jenifer Aniston. And this was in the Foyer

    It seems you aren't even allowed to look into the view finder of your phone in a cinema.


  20. wsm

    @Someone talking sense

    Not everyone is aware, but there is such an agreement for "a few quid" to copy copyrighted works at U.S. universities, at least as it pertains to the photocopy problem. If a journal or any other publication is part of said agreement, the photocopy center can provide copies of articles for distribution to students, for classes or individual research.

    The problem with the RIAA and others seems to be that they know people will listen to that MP3 forever. How would such an agreement enrich them? Come to think of it, haven't they tried to license every copy of a song when you've bought the CD? They don't want you to put it on your your own iWhatever unless you pay again for each and every device you own or will own. Then the possibility of someone sharing one of those files frightens their accountants.

    So, fear from the industry people is what is driving the guilty-until-driven-broke idea of pursuing someone with a few songs is all about. Yes, a simple fee system for those who want to share would be too easy.

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