Public Policy 12 December 2011

Internet Society Submission to European Commission Stakeholders Consultation

21 March 2010

Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission
European Commission 200, rue de la Loi-Wetstraat
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium

By email to [email protected]

RE: European Commission Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Stakeholders’ Consultation Meeting on 22 March 2010

The Internet Society respectfully submits its comments for the European Commission ACTA Stakeholders’ Consultation Meeting on 22 March 2010.


The Internet Society commends the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission for organising a consultation on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and for providing us with this opportunity to comment. Unfortunately, since no official copy of the text has been released to the public, the Internet Society is unable to provide substantive comments on the text of the proposed agreement.

Open, transparent and inclusive

The Internet is a shared resource.

The Internet Society appreciates the sensitivity of treaty negotiations and governments’ desire not to hamper ongoing treaty negotiations by prematurely releasing details of their discussions and positions. However, we encourage the participants in the ACTA negotiations (the ACTA participants) to recall the considerable benefits that have been derived from open, transparent and inclusive multistakeholder engagement in the development of Internet standards and governance.

Further, we encourage the European Commission and other participants in the ACTA negotiations to draw on the insight and experience of the Internet technical community, civil society, business, Internet users and others in developing solutions to address the challenging issue of online intellectual property rights infringement.

We urge the ACTA participants to publish the digital provisions under consideration at an appropriate point as early as possible while the negotiations are still going on, and to invite public comment so that all relevant stakeholders have an opportunity to properly consider the proposals and provide their views and suggestions, drawing from their own unique expertise and experience. We also urge the ACTA participants to take those views and suggestions into account in their ongoing negotiations.

Technology is neutral

Intellectual property rights infringement occurs offline as well as in the online environment. The European Union has developed a suite of tools to deal effectively with illegal activities in the offline world. Those tools should provide the framework for developing mechanisms to deal with illegal activities online, for intellectual property rights as for others. People – not technologies – breach intellectual property rights.

Any policies to curtail online intellectual property rights infringement should not stifle the development, evolution and legitimate use of Internet technologies.

They should not abrogate applicable privacy laws and principles, and other fundamental rights, including the right to the protection of due process and judicial oversight.

Furthermore, while the technologies may be new, the behaviour at issue is not. Policies should focus on this behaviour rather than the technologies that could be used to infringe intellectual property rights.

We urge the European Commission and other participants in the ACTA negotiations to recall these fundamental principles in their continuing negotiations.


The Internet is an extraordinary platform for innovation. It has benefitted from broad participation in both the use and development of Internet technology, services applications, and policy. The Internet’s openness has been critical to its development and continued success. Openness is the key to continued innovation and investment in the Internet and all the associated social, economic and cultural benefits it brings.

Deciding how to appropriately protect intellectual property rights in an online environment is an important and relevant issue for the Internet community, not just content owners and governments. We call upon the ACTA participants to adopt an inclusive and transparent multistakeholder approach to these negotiations.

Once again, we welcome the initiative of the European Directorate General for Trade to begin the process of consultation on this very important treaty negotiation. We look forward to greater transparency and the opportunity to provide substantive comments in the future when the official text is available.

Respectfully submitted,

Frédéric Donck
Director European Regional Bureau

Internet Society

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar
Education City
PO Box 24866
Doha, Qatar

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