Page last updated at 21:42 GMT, Wednesday, 20 October 2010 22:42 UK

Commissioner denies piracy law is 'Big Brother'

The EU's Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht has told MEPs that a new agreement against counterfeiting was not about "creating Big Brother".

He made a statement to the European Parliament on 20 October 2010 on the latest development in creating the global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an agreement between the EU and countries such as the US, Mexico, Canada and Japan on combating piracy.

A draft text of ACTA was released on 6 October 2010 after months of discussion.

Commissioner de Gucht said the text did not protect privacy or other fundamental rights, including internet access and said it would ensure that the EU's intellectual property rights would be effectively protected.

However a number of MEPs said they still had concerns over the agreements.

French social democray Kader Arif claimed that ACTA could lead to people having computers and mobile telephones searched by border control agents.

However Mr De Gucht said that no MEP had been able to specify a specific example of EU fundamental rights that could be breached by the agreement.

Christian Engström from Sweden's Pirate Party, who have long campaigned against ACTA, said it could lead to a so-called "three strikes rule" with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) acting as "private police forces".

MEPs have said that negotiations over the agreement have not been as transparent as possible - although Commissioner de Gucht said that successive versions of the draft texts have now been published.

In a declaration signed in September, MEPs stressed that ACTA should not lead to any harmonisation of existing EU copyright laws.

Read more here at Democracy Live's guide to the European Parliament plenary sessions.


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