The level of secrecy shrouding the EU’s ACTA negotiations reached new heights earlier this week, with the news that Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom felt compelled to abandon a meeting with ACTA negotiators in the European Parliament after he was forbidden from sharing information with the public.
According to a write-up on TorrentFreak, a blog dedicated to bringing the latest news about BitTorrent, Commission negotiators were scheduled to update European parliamentarians on progress in the latest round of ACTA negotiations in Lucerne.
An invite went out to Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom, but the meeting was closed to the public and, he was informed, he was not allowed to share any information he obtained at the meeting with his electors.
According to Engstrom: "At first the Commission seemed unwilling to answer this question with a straight yes or no, but after I had repeated the question a number of times, they finally came out and said that I would not be allowed to spread the information given."
He then left the room, complaining that he was "not prepared to accept information given under such conditions in this particular case".
Engstrom further accused the Commission of a "disgraceful" violation of the Lisbon Treaty, which requires full information to be provided to the European Parliament. A secret oral meeting with no documents handed out certainly does not meet this condition.
One reason for nervousness on the part of ACTA negotiators may lie in an embarrassing leak earlier this year. French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net published online a consolidated version of the ACTA text, containing a full copy of the deal as it stood on 18 January, 2010.
The problem is that most organisations leak, and the harder you try to keep something secret the greater the pressure to reveal. The only difference is that if you keep the wraps on for too long, not only will your secrets always eventually spill, but you end up looking sneaky and undemocratic as well. ®