The international agreement is backed by the United States and Japan, and was signed on January 26 by the EU and 22 of its 27 member states. One of its main targets is clamping down on illegal internet piracy by asserting rights to intellectual property in the digital world.
The German Foreign Ministry announced that it was only delaying the signing for formal reasons, but the decision is likely to hearten German activists who fear the agreement will curtail internet freedoms worldwide.
Protesters are organizing anti-ACTA demonstrations in 60 German towns on Saturday, and are expecting thousands of people to attend.
Three of Germany’s political parties have come out against ACTA – the Greens, the socialist Left party and the Pirates, whose major campaign platform is guarding internet freedoms. Some members of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) have also voiced opposition.
Michael Kretschmer, internet policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has criticized the lack of transparency in the way the negotiations are being carried out. He said it did not inspire trust among the population, “if these contracts come about like secret agreements,” he said Friday in Berlin.
Poland and the Czech Republic have also refused to ratify the agreement so far. Both countries have also seen major protests in the streets.