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With all the headlines about SOPA and PIPA, it's easy to forget that President Obama already signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement way back in October. ACTA bypassed the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the United to create a new, multinational governing body that can crack down on intellectual property concerns. Like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA is full of loose language and privacy concerns, and it's caused a lot of hand-wringing in Europe. Yesterday, the EU and 22 of its members signed ACTA, prompting several backlashes; the EU's ACTA investigator quit in outrage, and Polish politicians donned Guy Fawkes masks.
Kader Arif was appointed by the European Union to investigate and scrutinize ACTA, which was drafted behind closed doors with the help of the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and other industry organizations. He quit the position and lashed out at the EU after it signed the treaty yesterday, saying the process was basically rigged.
TechSpot quotes Arif as saying he "faced unprecedented maneuvers from the right wing of Parliament to impose an accelerated schedule to pass the agreement as soon as possible before the public is alerted, thereby depriving Parliament of its right of expression and the tools at its disposal to carry the legitimate demands of citizens." According to the BBC, Arif says the process had "no consultation of the civil society" and a "lack of transparency since the beginning of negotiations."
Meanwhile, Poland has been rocked by massive protests against ACTA -- and the country still signed the agreement yesterday. Several Polish politicians members appeared in Parliament holding Guy Fawkes masks in front of their faces to protest the move. TechDirt, which reported the story and provided the picture above, points out that the homemade paper masks are "counterfeit" copies of the actual masks Time Warner holds rights to -- thereby giving the protest a deeper level of delicious irony.