The European Union's highest court has been asked to rule on the legality of the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) that 22 EU countries including the UK have already signed.

The controversial agreement has sparked protests in some areas of Europe, with Germany and Denmark both refusing to sign the agreement.

As a result, the EU's head of trade Karel De Gucht is asking the courts to establish whether or not the agreement complies with "the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms".

Censorship

Acta is intended to make it easier to pursue online pirates by bringing in common, international standards so that if you're breaking the law in, say, the US, you're also breaking the law in the UK, France, and anywhere else that has signed up to Acta.

Critics of the agreement point to the fact that it has been developed in secret by rights holders and others with vested interests and the fact that it requires ISPs to be responsible for and police all actions of its users, creating an online nanny state and infringing on free speech.

De Gucht explained, "Let me be very clear: I share people's concern for these fundamental freedoms... especially over the freedom of the internet.

"This debate must be based upon facts, and not upon the misinformation and rumour that has dominated social media sites and blogs in recent weeks."

From BBC