In February The Internet Society Romania chapter brought together over 80 participants from 50 different organizations to discuss the implications of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act (ACTA), at their event ACTA: Between Anonymous Threats and Government Control.
A few hours after the event, the Romanian prime minister, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, promised to deliver an elaborated point of view on ACTA; one week after the event, the Romanian government announced they have frozen the ratification of ACTA until receiving the official position of the European Court of Justice.
Artists such as famous Romanian TV producer Andrei Gheorghe, and composer of HiQ, Florin Grozea, among others, emphasized the importance of the free flow of information and freedom of speech for building a sound cultural environment, while ensuring intellectual property rights are respected online and offline.
Government representatives (Ministry of Economy, ORDA Romanian Office for Author Rights and the Service for Special Telecommunications) as well as representatives from the business world argued ACTA was not properly understood by the public and it would not bring new provisions to the Romanian legislation, which was claimed to be more restrictive about counterfeiting of physical goods and intellectual works.
Romanian ISPs communicated a strong point of view, making it very clear that they do not wish to be part of any enforcement scheme, becoming the police of the virtual environment.
Bogdan Manolea, Executive Manager of ApTI (Association of Tehnology and Internet) reinforced this point of view by explaining the novelty of ACTA as compared to the national legislation.
According to statements, ACTA would promote privatized IPR enforcement, run with the help of ISPs through specialized private companies and not following justice court decisions. The vagueness of the provisions of ACTA could potentially allow for mass treatment of confidential data by ISPs without the consent of Internet users or worse - would promote the creation of private IPR enforcement bodies, to short-circuit democratic justice mechanisms, based on the right to a fair trial and on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
The Romanian Chapter of the Internet Socitey was concerned about the possibility (mentioned in ACTA treaty) that a third party would misuse crypto libraries to make Stuxnet2 or in order to decrypt DVD's or BluRAY's. BSA representative for Romania declared that such tools would be considered as ”knives” delivered by a knives manufacturer, which would be not be held liable for damages. "
The participants also got a sneak peak of the work on ACTA in the European Parliament, through the remote intervention from Brussels of Renate Weber, Romanian Member of the European Parliament.
This event ignited a lively debate on a controversial trade agreement that could influence the way we work and exchange information on the Internet. Participants have noted the need for reinforced transparency in the negotiation procedures and the establishment of a permanent multistakeholder dialogue in order to find solutions for protecting intellectual property on the Internet while protecting users fundamental rights.
The Internet Society as a whole urges policymakers to reconsider ACTA's ratification and work openly with all stakeholders around the world to build solutions to online copyright that are both locally relevant and globally sustainable.