The European Commission is referring the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the Court of Justice.
According to Commissioner Karel De Gucht's statement about ACTA: 'In recent weeks, the ratification process of ACTA has triggered a Europe-wide debate on ACTA, the freedom of the internet and the importance of protecting Europe’s Intellectual Property for our economies.
'...I share people’s concern for these fundamental freedoms. I welcome that people have voiced their concerns so actively especially over the freedom of the internet. And I also understand that there is uncertainty on what ACTA will really mean for these key issues at the end of the day.
'So I believe that putting ACTA before the European Court of Justice is a needed step. This debate must be based upon facts and not upon the misinformation or rumour that has dominated social media sites and blogs in recent weeks.'
The European Publishers Council (EPC) has welcomed the move, noting that the process, although adding delay, will 'uphold the legality of ACTA’s provisions'. Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the EPC commented, 'ACTA will not censor websites or shut them down; ACTA will not hinder freedom of the internet or freedom of speech. ACTA will change nothing about how we use the internet and social websites today since it does not introduce any new rules. ACTA only helps to enforce what is already law today.'
Opponents to ACTA believe that the treaty will retrict online freedom and could prevent access to the use of generic versions of medicinal drugs in developing countries.