Christian Engström, Pirat

7 oktober 2010

The ACTA secrecy continues

Filed under: ACTA,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 14:32

The ACTA text is released (click to download), but the secrecy continues

The text of the ACTA agreement was released yesterday, and you can download it here.

But the secrecy around this new legislation still continues. At this very minute the EU Commission is holding a meeting to brief members of the European Parliament. At the very outset of the meeting, it was declared from the chairman that ”this is not a press conference, or a meeting to feed La Quadrature du Net or Wikileaks”.

I then chose to leave the meeting immediately.

I am not interested in receiving information on ACTA that I am not allowed to share with the citizens I represent. I think that goes against the transparency that citizens have right to demand from the EU in general, and the elected members of the parliament in particular.

But it is the text that is the important thing anyway. I have read through the agreement, and it is very depressing reading.

This is legislation being introduced over the heads of the European and national parliaments, under the guise of an international agreement. And it is bad legislation.

Internet service providers should cooperate with rights holders to combat copyright infringements, according to the ACTA text. It should be illegal to circumvent DRM, or to spread computer programs that can be used for that purpose. Damages should be calculated according to the principle that each illegal download corresponds to one lost sale. And a lot of similar things.

We will have to analyse the exact implications of the text over the coming weeks and months. This is tricky stuff, and the devil is always in the details.

Some early analysis can be found here:


Previous articles on ACTA

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26 kommentarer

  1. Why not attend the meeting and then discuss it here even though they told you you shouldn’t or would that be illegal?

    Kommentar av Gustav Svensson — 7 oktober 2010 @ 15:37

  2. I’m surprised that you were not better prepared.

    If you are always to leave the room without question than they will always begin meetings claiming that it is secret and then call you uninformed when you question proposals. You cannot win with this strategy.

    Since this tactic has been tried before, at least you should have brought a video camera along, and then start to question the decision to have a closed meeting. You also have to fight for that the reason for having closed meetings should be stated in writing in the call to the meeting and with a reference to the proper EU-regulation.

    Or you should declare for yourself that you do not consider yourself being bound by any secrecy agreement and make available to the public any information you see fit. Then they can try to force you to leave…

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 7 oktober 2010 @ 16:30

  3. Tjäder: Naturally, there where other MEP:s present – who could put the relevant questions.

    Kommentar av Henrik Alexandersson — 7 oktober 2010 @ 16:44

  4. Why not just put a microphone in the room with an assistant, leave the meeting in anger and then make sure to leak the audio file?

    Kommentar av xor — 7 oktober 2010 @ 16:54

  5. HAX, I still don’t think walk-over is a winning strategy. You have to make them play by your rules.

    And if you don’t have rules, the Commission tries to set the rules.

    One way would be to try to get the EP to state that any information given in any meeting will be treated as open information, unless a secret meeting have been approved by some body of MEPs that makes sure the secrecy only applies to those cases where it is relevant.

    This current state of having Commission officials – not even commissioners themselves – decide what is secret should not be tolerated. This question has to be actively pursued if Engström is not going to end up at the side lines every time.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 7 oktober 2010 @ 17:59

  6. ”Internet service providers should cooperate with rights holders to combat copyright infringements, according to the ACTA text. It should be illegal to circumvent DRM, or to spread computer programs that can be used for that purpose. Damages should be calculated according to the principle that each illegal download corresponds to one lost sale. And a lot of similar things.”


    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 7 oktober 2010 @ 18:42

  7. Christian’s work in the parliament does not depend on him being present in every room where ACTA (or any other important matter) will be discussed. In contrast, the commission’s claim that the parliament has been informed does.

    Under the Lisbon treaty, the parliament expects to be informed about what the commission is doing in these areas, and the commission is required to provide that information. The struggle right now, as the Lisbon treaty has recently entered into force, is exactly what this ”information” amounts to and the influence over the political process it yields to the parliament. It’s not just about ACTA, it’s about every single issue covered by the same clauses in the treaty that will come up in the future.

    If the commission can get away with hand-picking a select few MEPs and ”inform” them behind closed doors without allowing them to tell their constituents what they learned, those MEPs have essentially become hostages of the commission. In order to make an informed decision when it comes to voting on some part of a proposal, the MEPs don’t merely need that information themselves, but they need to discuss it with their assistants, their party groups, other MEPs, their constituents and indeed the general public so that every possible aspect of the issue is covered. Otherwise Christian could be handed a 1,000-page dossier with classified information, asked to digest it and give it a thumbs up or thumbs down without ever being allowed to show it to anyone else. When his decision eventually turns out to be a strategic disaster, at least noone can blame him for not asking for help – because he wasn’t allowed to. But he will hardly get reelected merely for trying his best.

    The attitude of the chairman, effectively singling out La Quadrature du Net and Wikileaks as public enemies not worthy of consideration, is simply deplorable. It was a clear message from the commission to those present that the information to be presented was not suitable for the public, and that any leak would be considered a breach of trust, possibly affecting future relations between the commission and the parliament (including the amount of actual information being provided). If Christian were to remain in the room, his position as an MEP would be tainted either by his loyalty to the commission or by his breach of their trust, depending on his choice. You cannot amend the rules by violating them and rendering them ineffective whenever they are to be applied; you can only amend them by strictly adhering to them and demonstrating that they don’t serve their stated purpose.

    When the time comes to evaluate whether the commission has lived up to the requirement to inform the parliament, Christian will have a good case to show that it hasn’t, because each time he has been invited to such an information session, he has been told in ample terms that the information hasn’t been supposed to leave the room, and therefore he has left without it. If he instead has remained in the room, that will be taken as an admission that he has indeed been informed, even if he happens to claim otherwise on his personal blog (which has absolutely no relevance to the position of the parliament as such).

    Wikileaks performing the task of informing the public anyway doesn’t count, especially as the commission will refuse to confirm that the leaked information is correct. In that case we won’t be able to trust Wikileaks either, because the information may very well be planted in an attempt to deceive.

    Anybody who is willing to leave a hidden microphone in a room where ”information” is being provided might just as well go for the big fish, and hide the microphone in the room where actual negotiations take place, or in the personal office of the responsible commissioner. Why not bug the telephones? However, don’t ask or expect Christian to go around planting bugs on your behalf, as doing so is morally wrong. Besides, it may have legal repercussions.

    Kommentar av Anders Andersson — 7 oktober 2010 @ 20:04

  8. @nejtillpirater, #6:


    Yes, of course you’d think so. Personally, I already knew perfectly well where you stand, but it’s nice of you to make it utterly clear to everyone *else*, some of whom might still have had doubts as to exactly how extreme your stance actually is.

    Kommentar av Undrande... — 7 oktober 2010 @ 21:17

  9. @Anders Andersson Great posting. I totally agree. We already know what they are talking about and that the forces behind this document are very unlikely to see reason given the massive amount of pure evil they put in the documents already. The best thing we can hope for is a moral victory.

    Kommentar av Kristofer Pettersson — 7 oktober 2010 @ 21:21

  10. I was a bit late for the meeting and missed the ”don’t talk” part. Was only wondering why Christian left when I came. Anyway, I just tweeted the whole session through (starting here).

    But this is irrelevant anyway, because the text is public now, and we have to make up our minds about it.

    Kommentar av Ralf Bendrath — 8 oktober 2010 @ 0:49

  11. @Anders Andersson: You only have to live under rules which you have agreed to. Of course we could tape the whole meeting (in fact, it actually was taped), and I would probably have tweeted about it if I had known from the outset it’s closed and ”restricted”.

    But the mere fact that the chairman was referring to LQDN and Wikileaks (he forgot shows that it has become impossible to hide stuff from the public. And they have understood it.

    It’s just an attempt to pretend playing by the secrecy rules when everybody knows they don’t work anymore. And because Mickey Mouse doesn’t have a copyright claim, it’s much easier to just copy and publish stuff.

    The real issue about ACTA is not transparency anymore, at least not since they have officially published the latest version. Now it’s the hard task of substative criticism and political weighing.

    Kommentar av Ralf Bendrath — 8 oktober 2010 @ 1:11

  12. I’d like to see the MEPs join in a common action against the commission and vote down every single proposotion until openess and transparacy gets to be the standard way of handling questions like this. I know its impossible but the MEPs are there to represent the people and only a few of them seem to remember that…

    Kommentar av Pontus — 8 oktober 2010 @ 1:30

  13. @Ralf Bendrath: If anything important about ACTA is now public information, why would the chairman be concerned about those present leaking information to the public? You weren’t there to hear him, so you will have to take Christian’s word for it.

    As for agreeing to rules: It’s a matter of dispute whether remaining in the room during a closed-door session constitutes acceptance of the closed doors or not. Legally speaking, Christian may very well be in the clear even if he disregards the request for confidentiality (I suppose he enjoys a certain amount of immunity due to his role as MEP).

    But the chairman didn’t threaten to file complaints against anyone; he simply laid out the conditions for the session, as he saw them. Christian could have objected verbally, but it’s doubtful whether his objection would have meant anything.

    Kommentar av Anders Andersson — 8 oktober 2010 @ 2:37

  14. @Anders Andersson (#7, #13)

    Of course no one can be everywhere, but the issue at hand is if the Commission, especially their officials, can decide upon the conditions on which information is being relayed to Parliament. By leaving the room without opposition it may be construed as an acceptance for that policy.

    I’m not saying it was wrong to leave the room in this particular case, but I’m concerned that this is becoming a predictable response and so it will be used always. And it’s not clear in the Lisbon treaty that it is forbidden for the Commission to insist on closed meetings. Parliament would have to stand up an require open information or at least stricter and clearly defined procedures for determining which meetings should be open and which should be closed

    Which is the biggest policy maker, the Parliament or the Commission?

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 8 oktober 2010 @ 8:34

  15. @Johan Tjäder: ”By leaving the room without opposition it may be construed as an acceptance for that policy.”

    Exactly. I think this matter is suitable to metaphorize by the statement made by Rosa Parks in that Alabama-bus back in 1955. Would Rosa Parks just had left the bus…we would not even know about her today. The statement was based on questioning and opposing the current system. Consequently, by refusing to leave her seat she made her statement crystal clear: ”On what grounds do I have to give up my seat?”.

    That is what I would like Engström to do. Start opposing and start questioning. Record ”secret” sessions is possible, question the Mickey Mouse-authority and make certain that the official agenda of the EU is compatible with the non-official.

    Or perhaps more simply put, the world needs more of true leadership than political games?

    Kommentar av Thomas Tvivlaren — 8 oktober 2010 @ 10:31

  16. ”Internet service providers should cooperate with rights holders to combat copyright infringements, according to the ACTA text”.

    – To summarize: ISP’s are to perform deep packet probes on every customer – i.e. Wiretap each and every customer, and analyze each and every file transmitted, every bank transaction, every personal correspondence and email, plus attachments.

    ”It should be illegal to circumvent DRM, or to spread computer programs that can be used for that purpose.”

    – To summarize: Owning a computer should be illegalized. What they are describing is everything in an OS, from the command line and up. Notepad, hex editors, every programming tool in existence.
    Let alone that Open Source will be illegal to own, produce, and spread under this act.
    This is the equivalence of prohibiting the existence of screwdrivers which could ”in theory” be used for burglary, or of ”blunt instruments”.

    You’d have to be insane, an idiot, or a raging troll to give that sort of legislation more than a disbelieving shake of the head.

    Kommentar av Scary Devil Monastery — 8 oktober 2010 @ 12:20

  17. @Scary Devil Monastery: ”You’d have to be insane, an idiot, or a raging troll to give that sort of legislation more than a disbelieving shake of the head.”

    Check, check and check…in regards to NejTillPsykiaters comment above.

    Bringing up deep packet inspection, would that be put into practice, makes this so much more interesting considering the following:

    UK sued at European Court of Justice over Deep Packet Inspection

    (The blogger Bendrath comments in this thread by the way.)

    Kommentar av Thomas Tvivlaren — 8 oktober 2010 @ 12:31

  18. […] El día de ayer, en la reunión del Parlamento Europeo con la Comisión Europea, encargada de la negociación, Luc Devigne (el negociador) insistió que México firmará ACTA a pesar del Senado, así lo reportó el ex parlamentario David Hammerstein quien se encontraba en la reunión que por cierto, como lo relata Christian Engström (Parlamentario Partido Pirata), era secreta. […]

    Pingback av ACTA, acaban las negociaciones ¿empieza la discusión? | — 8 oktober 2010 @ 14:19

  19. @Scary: ”You’d have to be insane, an idiot, or a raging troll to give that sort of legislation more than a disbelieving shake of the head.”

    Will you still claim this when the legislation has been agreed on?

    According to you, 99.35% of the Swedes are insane, idiots or raging trolls since the didn’t vote for the Swedish Pirate Party in the Swedish election 2010.

    @Thomas tvivlaren: ”Check, check and check…in regards to NejTillPsykiaters comment above.”

    Ad hominem. Seems to be the only weapon left for pirates now.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 9 oktober 2010 @ 8:01

  20. @NejTillPsykiater: Antipiratbyrån, Netopia och de andra av Sonys m.fl. lobbyorgan som kan komma på tal som din arbetsgivare räknas inte som person så ad hominem gör sig knappast.

    Sist men inte minst, ett troll har varken respekt eller intellektuell hederlighet så hela ad hominem-försvaret är per definition raserat från grunden.

    Kommentar av Thomas Tvivlaren — 9 oktober 2010 @ 8:18

  21. @Thomas Tvivlaren:

    Jag är inte avlönad av någon för att skriva min blogg, jag gör det som en helt vanlig samhällsmedborgare som anser att man ska betala ärligt för sig eller annars låta bli en vara eller en tjänst. Jag delar den uppfattningen med majoriteten av svenskarna och det är en självklarhet för icke snyltare och ärliga och hederliga människor. Vem är du avlönad av?

    Vilken respekt och intellektuell hederlighet ligger det i att kalla andra vid öknamn när argumenten tryter? Du lever inte som du lär och din kritik mot andra faller tillbaka på dig själv.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 9 oktober 2010 @ 9:24

  22. […] Svd, Kunskapssamhället, HAX, HAX, Farmor Gun, Engström, Scaber Nestor, Troberg, fagerlund, Skumrask, Svd, DN, […]

    Pingback av Ådalslagarna urholkas mer och mer… « Sverige är inte världens navel! — 10 oktober 2010 @ 1:49

  23. @Nejtillpirater

    You don’t give up spouting nonsense, do you? 99% of the Swedish population simply chose to prioritize what they would vote for – and none of them voted for a treaty which would render every existing personal computer illegal to own and use. 15% of the swedish population are still file-sharers. They would, no doubt, be opposed to such a treaty in general. For example. As for the rest, I have yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t fileshare who even thought the question of filesharing was at all important, one way or the other.

    Every party has a fraction which shares PP’s ideals when it comes to the IT-perspective. As they are so far in the minority except in the Green and Left, that of course means their presence is felt indirectly, if at all. PP is simply the one party where these questions are prioritized.

    That leaves about 20% of every internet user in Sweden rabidly against such a treaty, as well as any advanced computer user or IT-operative, and everyone who knows what treaties like this mean and are concerned about citizen’s rights. With the vast majority of the rest not even thinking very hard about it.

    But since you are in favour of ACTA you should stop being a hypocrite, and immediately consign your computer to the trash. The browser you typed your message on? That’s a tool quite capable of violating DRM, as is notepad, excel, and any other tool or script running on your computer which could in theory be used to violate DRM. Your DVD-player or game console (if you own one) could easily be made to violate DRM.
    It’s exactly like banning the sale or distribution of any screwdriver or crowbar which could be used to commit a crime. You can’t do it without banning tools altogether.

    As for the ”responsibility” of bandwidth providers to monitor their clientele, a direct effect is banning encrypted traffic. So now we have to accept that no bank transaction can be made over the internet, including ATM cash withdrawals? Every online store will have to close up shop as no warranty can be provided if the client has to give his bank id and code in clear text.

    There is no way to tell if someone has a server set up to run a perfectly legitimate email service – or if it is in actuality a Usenet node. So PGP standard has to go, which means MS and Apple will have to rewrite their operating systems from scratch – and ANY third-party application will have to be rewritten also.

    The inescapable net effect of what ACTA suggests regarding software and IT surveillance are therefore that any computer capable of a command line interface – anything other than ”point-and-click” – will be illegal, and no computer engineer or system scientist can be taught in europe, since you’d have to ensure that no OS will give administrator rights to it’s owner.

    Of course, this means open source must be forbidden in entirety. Any tool used to write a program can also be used to circumvent safeties in the same way an arc welder can be used to open a safe.

    So i stand by my statement. Anyone who approves of such a treaty is either blind, insane, or a raging troll. But i may have to add one more item – it could be a fanatic, and a stupid one at that.

    Even if the ACTA treaty should pass, examples such as China have demonstrated quite clearly that no amount of legislation, no matter how draconic, will be able to prevent the citizenry from communicating to one another what they like, when they like, and without the government or their internet providers knowing about it.

    In fact, Iran is the only nation which has been able to keep it’s citizenry from communication – they simply unplug the internet and throttle every mobile phone every time they expect a riot. That’s your idea of ”excellent”, put in practice.

    Kommentar av Scary Devil Monastery — 11 oktober 2010 @ 8:49

  24. @Nejtillpirater

    To summarize, and paraphrase Falkvinge: ”Any solution which requires rebuilding the entire internet is certainly going to be an uphill struggle”. The extra Anti-DRM solution also means every current computer industry has to rewrite every single line of code and build entirely new standards.

    I advise reading up on China’s failed ”Green Dam” project for some of the minimum requirements where the hardware is concerned.

    Kommentar av Scary Devil Monastery — 11 oktober 2010 @ 8:52

  25. […] som de ursprungliga skrivningarna. Acta-bloggen har mer och Christian Engström skriver (1, 2, 3, […]

    Pingback av Acta, Spectrial, domar och valutvärdering | Rick Falkvinge (PP) — 11 oktober 2010 @ 21:18

  26. @NejTillPsykiater: Ditt öknamn har du med rätta förtjänat helt enkelt för att du utmärkt dig som ett av den svenska bloggosfärens mest ihärdiga troll.

    Du och din kollega @Piratlobbyn (på Twitter) har inget intresse av saklig argumentation utan agerar helt och fullt propagandistiskt med en tydlig agenda.

    ”Jag är inte avlönad av någon för att skriva min blogg, jag gör det som en helt vanlig samhällsmedborgare som anser att man ska betala ärligt för sig eller annars låta bli en vara eller en tjänst. Jag delar den uppfattningen med majoriteten av svenskarna och det är en självklarhet för icke snyltare och ärliga och hederliga människor.”

    Vilken uppfattning är det du delar med ”majoriteten av svenskar”? Som du kanske minns så är det enda mandat svenska folket gett politikerna baserat på Reinfeldts stora lögn att ”vi kan ju inte jaga en hel ungdomsgeneration”. Det var det samtliga etablissemangspartier gick till val på senast demokratifrågan var på tapeten i ett svenskt val.

    Eller är det att världen är sig lik efter Internet? Att demokrati och medborgarrätter har lägre prioritet än att Sony och deras gelikar ska ha gudomlig rätt till vinst utan prestation? I dryga 15 års tid har Sony m.fl. upphovsrättsprofitörer gjort passivitet till en konstform och för detta belönat sina direktioner med oskäligt hög betalning. Är det detta du hävdar att svenska folket sympatiserar med? Hur tycker du det rimmar med tanke på att människor använder Internet som det är tänkt mer än någonsin tidigare?

    Kommentar av Thomas Tvivlaren — 12 oktober 2010 @ 17:13

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