Bulgarian EconMin Ready to Resign over ACTA Outrage
Bulgaria's Minister of Economy and Energy, Traicho Traikov, announced that he is ready to resign over the ACTA controversy.
Speaking for the media Wednesday, Traikov, however, added that he would do so only if Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, decided such sanction is needed.
On Tuesday the Minister declared Bulgaria will freeze its participation in the controversial international Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement, ACTA, and assumed full responsibility for signing it, despite the fact that negotiations on it have started as early as 2006, long before he became member of the cabinet.
"Since there are no damages for society, I believe the move is sufficient as a sign of assuming responsibility. I was convinced that this agreement would be beneficial for Bulgaria. Even now experts say its positive effects would outweigh the negative ones," the Minister commented.
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 Traikov, who had made the proposal.
Ever since the signing, ACTA 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 it, 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.
At the beginning of February, two Bulgarian NGOs – of Internet users and Internet service providers reached a handshake deal with the government in which Borisov promises that Bulgaria will ratify the ACTA with reservations.
Supporters of the treaty argue that the measures are necessary to clamp down on growing levels of piracy.
On the topic of potentially dangerous dams in the country, Traikov pointed out that his Ministry would need an additional BGN 10-12 M in order to deal with the new task of exercising control on dams and other water facilities, which was assigned to it after the deadly flood in the village of Biser, caused by the bust of the cracked wall of the nearby Ivanovo dam.
According to the Minister, 103 dams have been checked already and for 6 of them it was established they need repairs and draining to prevent potential flooding. It was reported earlier that there are about 600 unsafe dams in Bulgaria.
He further announced that he is bringing together Wednesday all regional governors to summarize the information on dams and on preparedness for the expected huge snowmelt.
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