Thousands of protesters have gathered across Europe to protest the controversial treaty known as ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Thousands braved cold temperatures in rallies across European cities. Reuters reports:
More than 25,000 demonstrators braved freezing temperatures in German cities to march against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) while 4,000 Bulgarians in Sofia rallied against the agreement designed to strengthen the legal framework for intellectual property rights.
There were thousands more - mostly young - demonstrators at other high-spirited rallies despite snow and freezing temperatures in cities including Warsaw, Prague, Slovakia, Bucharest, Vilnius, Paris, Brussels and Dublin.
Protesters believe the treaty will stifle an open internet:
"It's becoming an issue of citizens' power," said David Hammerstein, senior adviser on intellectual property for Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, an umbrella consumer rights organization in Brussels. "The front lines of the defense of civil rights today is the defense of an open, free Internet and that (is what ACTA threatens.)"
"I am here to protest against others' rights to collect information about me that I never intended to share with them," said Aniko Kapeller, a graphic designer who lives in Budapest.
"ACTA does not only violate the rights of file-sharers while serving a small interest group, but also more severely limits the freedom of the Internet even more acutely," said Sandor Szorad, a student protesting in Budapest. "It provides for the unlimited surveillance of people's activities on the net, without giving them the benefit of the doubt. All freedom-loving people have to protest against this."
The BBC adds:
Saturday's London demonstration was supported by the Open Rights Group, a vocal opponent to the treaty. The group's executive director, Jim Killock, argued that Germany's stance shows Acta negotiations were carried out "in secret" by EU "bureaucrats".
"Three member states in Europe are now looking like they don't want to sign," he told the BBC.
"That shows that politicians are only really starting to look at this now. All of a sudden, the whole thing is breaking down."
Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have already delayed the process after significant pressure from mostly young people.
"The point today is to say Acta is undemocratic," Mr Killock added.
"It's lacked scrutiny, it's setting up dangerous new pressures to censor the internet to remove users and put pressure on [Internet Service Providers] to start policing for copyright."