New Zealand's Commerce Minister Simon Power has issued a call for public submissions to help develop the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).
As delegates from countries around the world, including Australian, the EU and the United States, prepare to descend on Wellington in April for Round 8 of the secretive ACTA negotiations, Power has asked the public to make submissions on digital enforcement measures, in order to "help set a higher benchmark for the enforcement of intellectual property rights."
This is the third call for public consultation on ACTA and amongst the issues the NZ Government seeks submissions on are limits on third-party liability for intellectual property and copyright infringement.
Specifically, the NZ Government wants feedback on if ACTA should include provisions on "safe harbours" for Internet Service Providers, and if so, what they should do to qualify for these.
Submissions can be made electronically with the Ministry of Economic Development and the deadline is March 31, 2010.
Opposition party Labour MP Clare Curran welcomed Power's call for submissions, as a "positive sign on ACTA" from the government. Curran says the NZ Government should release its official position to New Zealanders before the next negotiation round in Wellington in April, to show "real engagement and goodwill, and that there's nothing to hide."
According to Curran, indications are that ACTA is "less a trade agreement and more a treaty about intellectual property." The ACTA talks started under the previous Labour government.
Meanwhile, information on what is being discussed in the ACTA talks is drip-fed via a steady stream of leaks rather than government statements.
The latest leak, analysed on iTnews.com.au yesterday, showed that New Zealand was taking a far tougher negotiating position with its peers than Australia.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is yet to respond to requests for interviews by iTnews.com.au.
The New Zealand Internet users' lobby group, InternetNZ, said today that it will assist the public in voicing its concerns over ACTA. InternetNZ will do so through an open conference held in Wellington on April 10, two days before Round 8 of the ACTA talks start.
Called PublicACTA, InternetNZ's policy director Jordan Carter says the output from the conference will be provided to the New Zealand ACTA negotiators.
Carter says ACTA could affect everyone's rights on the Internet and that proposals from some countries go beyond New Zealand's current public position and demonstrate cause for concern.