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Opposition To ACTA Grows As UK Braces For Protests

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Two European countries have frozen work on ratification, and a day of protests is planned for 11 February

Opposition to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) continues to grow, as two countries freeze work on the pact amid a growing storm of organised protests.

ACTA is essentially an international treaty, that is designed to curb breaches of intellectual property rights.

It has already been signed by the European Union, but will not come into force until a vote in the European Parliament in June. The US, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland have also signed up to it.

Growing Opposition

But it is proving to be deeply unpopular and has triggered fierce protests in Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, and Romania. The Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, who has previously backed the treaty, now says he signed the agreement without properly considering the opinions of Polish internet users.

Last month it was revealed that a European MP working on the treaty had resigned in protest at the way it has been forced through.

And now the Czech Republic has decided to suspend the ratification process of ACTA.

“The cabinet cannot accept a situation in which the bedrock of liberty and free access to information is endangered,” Prime Minister Petr Necas is quoted as saying by a Czech news site. He added that the Czech government will take a longer look at ACTA’s provisions.

Meanwhile Slovakia is also reportedly backing away from the agreement, and has suspended its ratification process, according an Associated Press report. “I will not support a treaty that could limit human rights and freedoms,” said Slovakia’s Economy Minister Juraj Miskov.

And the treaty is also facing problems in Romania following the resignation of Prime Minister Emil Boc, who had signed the treaty.

ACTA Protests

Meanwhile many European countries, including the UK, are bracing themselves for a wave of protests against ACTA, with many protests expected to take on Saturday 11 February.

In the UK, protests are expected to take place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Nottingham.

A petition calling for the rejection of the Acta has attracted over 1.75 million signatures. It is aiming for 2 million signatures.