Bulgarian MPs Wear Guy Fawkes Mask to Protest ACTA
A number of Members of the Bulgarian Parliament protested Thursday and Friday against the singing of the controversial international ACTA agreement.
On the initiative of the blog "Open Parliament" and following the example of their colleagues from the Polish Parliament, they agreed to wear the mask of Guy Fawkes, symbol of the global protest against ACTA, and to have their picture taken with it.
The MPs say they support copyright laws, but oppose ACTA over its possible turning into an instrument to limit freedom of speech, to control internet use, and to turn into an obstacle for the exchange of information and knowledge online.
On January 26, the Bulgarian government signed in Tokyo the international ACTA agreement, vowing to make downloading content similar to forgery of brands.
The agreement was sealed by Bulgarian ambassador to Japan Lyubomir Todorov, based on a decision by the Bulgarian cabinet taken hastily on January 11.
22 out of the 27 EU member states have signed ACTA, along with countries such as the USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Switzerland.
Among EU Member States, Germany, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia and the Netherlands have postponed their signing.
ACTA, abbreviation for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, mandates that signatory countries implement legislation to criminalize certain types of downloading content such as music and movies, from sites not sanctioned by rights owners, such as torrent trackers.
According to the agreement, such actions will be classified as similar to counterfeiting, and will carry heavier sanctions, including confiscation.
The treaty also will require Internet providers to provide information about the traffic of their users.
In order to become effective in Bulgaria, ACTA must first be ratified by the European Parliament and then by the Bulgarian Parliament, which is expected to happen no earlier than June.
Transcripts from the meeting of the Council of Ministers from January 11 reveal that it had been Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, who had made the proposal, which stirred much discontent in Bulgaria, both because it had not been discussed by the cabinet and because the public had been kept entirely in the dark about the decision to sign ACTA, until prominent Bulgarian bloggers and lawyers stirred large-scale noise about it. They lashed out at the signing of ACTA over their belief the agreement will bind countries to install legal regulations that excessively and unduly broadly penalize Internet users.
ACTA has already raised an outcry internationally.
On Thursday, two Bulgarian NGOs – of Internet users and Internet service providers reached a handshake deal with the government in which Prime Minister Boyko Borisov promises that Bulgaria will ratify the ACTA with reservations.
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