Neelie Kroes backs ACTA protests

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Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, says she appreciates the protests against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Speaking at an internet conference in Berlin, the Dutch politician said she thought it unlikely that either the ACTA international anti-piracy agreement or the US Stop Online Piracy Agreement (SOPA) would come into force.

ACTA has met with fierce protests in various European countries over the past months. Opponents argue that the part of the agreement aimed at combating illegal downloading endangers internet freedom. The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee is expected to vote on ratification of the agreement in July.

“We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet,” Mrs Kroes said. “This is a strong new political voice. As a force for openness, I welcome it, even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject.”

Mrs Kroes, a member of the Dutch free-market liberal VVD party, described the internet as “the new frontier of freedom”. She said that crime constituted a “tiny minority of online activity”, adding that legislators should avoid an overreaction and “balance liberty and security”. Mrs Kroes went on to argue in favour of “net neutrality”, or openness of access to internet services.

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