Nearly 300 take part in “Stop ACTA” protest in Helsinki
Number of participants took organisers by surprise
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Helsinki on Saturday in protest against the controversial ACTA treaty (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).
The demonstration was part of a larger Europe-wide "Stop ACTA" campaign, the aim of which is to overthrow the agreement which is currently being processed by the European Parliament.
The objective of ACTA, which has been in the making for five years now, is to standardise copyright protection measures and rein in Internet piracy and the counterfeiting of intellectual property.
In Helsinki, four lilac Pirate Party of Finland flags were flying among the nearly 300 individuals who took part in the demonstration around noon on Saturday.
The ACTA treaty is being criticised particularly for blurring the line between piracy and counterfeiting of products.
Finland signed the treaty on January 26th. Parliament is likely to approve it in the autumn.
The demonstrators marching for Internet piracy and freedom of speech took 12 minutes to advance from the Central Railway Station Square to the Narinkkatori Square near the Kamppi shopping mall.
“ACTA has been camouflaged as a commercial treaty, even though in reality it limits the freedom of speech”, nursing student Emmi Lindfors justified her participation in the march.
“The treaty will turn Internet operators into web police.”
Demonstrator Maria Keltomäki shared Lindfors’s sentiments.
“The treaty has been manufactured in secrecy. I support online freedom.”
Keltomäki has followed the activities of the Pirate Party. “My first involvement was to stand up against the passing of Lex Nokia.”
By “Lex Nokia” Keltomäki referred to an amendment to the Act on Data Protection of Electronic Communications passed in June 2009, the purpose of which was to allow employers to investigate the log data of employees’ e-mails, if the company had reason to suspect that corporate secrets were leaking out of the company or that the employer’s communication networks were being misused.
”I do not
belong to the Pirate Party, but I am against limiting people’s online freedom. I did send email regarding the matter to all of the country’s MPs and MEPs”, explained Tahvo Oksanen, who studies in Tampere to become a bio analyst.
Laboratory technician Amanda Wong, in turn, came from the neighbouring city of Espoo to defend the freedom of speech.
“This is our first time”, said Miikka Marjokoski, who studies in Otaniemi and Aleksi Taalikka, who works as a security guard.
“We read from the newspaper how ACTA has been prepared in secrecy without telling anybody.”
The demonstration had been organised by activists from the Pirate Party, Pirate Youth, and Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI), an organisation that promotes free speech and civil rights on the Internet.
According to Rauol Plommer, chairman of the Pirate Party’s Helsinki district organisation, more demonstrators showed up than had been dared to hope for.
“Lex Nokia” law on telecommunications surveillance has never been invoked (3.6.2011)
Pirate Party gets official political party status (20.8.2009)
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Wikipedia)