EDPS shows its concern on the lack of precision of the ACTA on the treatment of IP rights

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) adopted an opinion which highlights the lack of precision of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) about the measures to be deployed to tackle infringements of intellectual property rights ('IP rights') on the Internet. According to the EDPS, it may have unacceptable side effects on fundamental rights of individuals, if they are not implemented properly.

The Opinion on the proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) stresses that measures that allow the indiscriminate or widespread monitoring of Internet users' behaviour, and/or electronic communications, in relation to trivial, small-scale, not for profit infringement would be disproportionate and in breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the Data Protection Directive. The opinion adds that many of the voluntary enforcement cooperation measures would entail a processing of personal data by ISPs which goes beyond what is allowed under EU law. Moreover, the EDPS highlights that ACTA does not contain sufficient limitations and safeguards, such as effective judicial protection, due process, the principle of the presumption of innocence, and the right to privacy and data protection.

This is not the first EDPS opinion regarding ACTA. In February 2010, the EDPS issued an Opinion in order to draw the attention of the Commission on the privacy and data protection aspects that should be considered in the ACTA negotiations. The EDPS underlines that the present second Opinion is based on a careful analysis of the final text of the agreement and aims to provide guidance on the privacy and data protection issues raised by ACTA which is presently subject of an assent procedure in the European Parliament.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international trade agreement aimed at tackling the enforcement of IP rights, by establishing a common approach to enforcement procedures and facilitating the international cooperation of countries and competent authorities. It addresses mainly counterfeiting of goods, piracy, unlawful use of trademarks and copyright. It contains also measures specific to the enforcement of IP rights in the digital environment.