Bulgaria freezes ACTA adoption
Bulgaria will halt ACTA adoption to await a common European Union stance on the issue, after widespread protests against the controversial Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
Bulgaria’s economy minister Traicho Traikov announced plans to ask the cabinet in Sofia to stop any further negotiations and a possible ratification of ACTA until there is a common stance by all EU members states.
Bulgaria was among 22 EU member states which signed ACTA in January, but the treaty has to be ratified by the parliament of each individual country in order to take effect.
ACTA is a trade agreement, already signed by Japan and the U.S., which aims at reducing internet piracy and protecting copyrights on the world wide web.
Following protests many EU members have already halted the ratification. More than 5,000 people rallied in front of the Bulgarian parliament on February 11 and others gathered in 16 other cities across the country to protest against the agreement, which is seen as an attempt to impose internet surveillance.
According to Traikov, society has suspicions over whether the agreement will curb human rights and act as a springboard for tighter police surveillance.
“Copyrights can never, under any circumstances, be put above human rights,” Traikov said on February 14.
Downloading movies, music and books for free is common practice in Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007 but remains the poorest members of the 27-country bloc.
This is the second time in as many days that the Bulgarian cabinet has acted under pressure from popular protests.
In January, the center-right cabinet of prime minister Boiko Borisov canceled a license it previously gave to U.S. Chevron to search for shale gas in northeastern Bulgaria, after protests around the country against the technology used in shale gas extraction.
The cancellation of Chevron’s license was followed by a parliamentary decision to impose an indefinite ban on shale oil and gas prospecting over fears about the extraction technology, which involves injecting a mixture of water and chemicals into the rock layer.