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German Gov’t Uses Anger Over Lack Of ACTA Transparency To Justify Further Lack Of Transparency

Posted on March 21st, 2012 at 16:24 by Paul Jay in category: Intellectual Property -- Write a comment


Even though the ACTA text is now finalized, getting details from national governments about what exactly happened during the negotiations is proving extremely difficult, with information still trickling out slowly.

For example, as the Netzpolitik blog explains (German original), the European Commission tried to counter accusations that the negotiations were lacking in transparency by pointing out that the German government had a representative present during all the sessions (that’s transparency?). This was news to people, since the German government had somehow omitted to mention this fact.

A natural question was therefore: who exactly took part? A German freedom of information request was put in to find out, and refused on rather remarkable grounds: that it might place the German officials who had been present during the negotiations at risk, because of the “emotional discussions” about ACTA that have taken place recently. The German government even claimed that threats of physical violence had been made against those who had taken part in ACTA, and so it couldn’t endanger the persons involved by naming them.

This all seems pretty far fetched. I don’t recall hearing about anyone threatening ACTA officials with physical violence, but I suppose it’s possible that someone, somewhere in Germany, say, wrote something to this effect. However, the Germany government is really missing the point here.

The fact that such “emotional discussions” have taken place demonstrates how deeply frustrated people are at the continuing lack of transparency surrounding the ACTA negotiations. Using that previous failure to provide information to justify further withholding of details is only likely to exacerbate things. It’s time for the German government, and the other signatories, to stop playing these bureaucratic games and to start engaging with their citizens through the release of more details about what exactly happened behind ACTA’s closed doors.

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