The decision appeared to reflect recognition by European Union officials of the political obstacles. Protests against the agreement were staged earlier this month in several European capitals — including Berlin, Helsinki, Paris and Vienna — by critics who say the agreement would stifle free speech and access to information.
The hacking group known as Anonymous claimed responsibility last week for a new series of hacks against the US Federal Trade Commission and consumer rights websites. The sites were replaced with a violent German-language video satirizing ACTA.
ACTA has been under negotiation for years. Its drafters say it is needed to harmonize international standards to protect the rights of those who produce music, movies, pharmaceuticals, fashion goods, and a range of other products that often fall victim to piracy and intellectual property theft.
The U.S. has signed the agreement. Others include Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea. Mexico and Switzerland participated in the negotiations but have not yet signed.
The EU and 22 EU Member States signed ACTA on 26 January 2012 in Tokyo. Although the European Council — the European Union heads of government — unanimously approved ACTA in December, for the EU to be a party to the treaty, all 27 member countries would have to formally ratify it.