ACTA, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is another bill which tramples all over your civil liberties. The Internet is having a hard time fighting off bills that threaten creativity, like PIPA and SOPA, but now something far worse has come to play.
In October 2007, the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan decided to branch together and negotiate a bill to tackle intellectual property and copyright infringement. Yesterday, all 21 states of the EU, including the UK, signed onto ACTA. As of October 1st 2011, 8 out of 11 countries had signed on, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea.
“Although the proposed treaty’s title might suggest that the agreement deals only with counterfeit physical goods (such as medicines) what little information has been made available publicly by negotiating governments about the content of the treaty makes it clear that it will have a far broader scope and in particular will deal with new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology” -EFF
No one really knows what’s in the ACTA agreement, so it’s unnerving why so many countries have signed. They know something we don’t, keeping us out of the equation. Witnessing the recent revolt against SOPA and PIPA, they’ve done this for a reason. Methods to prepare this bill have even led Kader Arif, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for ACTA, to resign on Friday, saying he had witnessed “never-before-seen manoeuvres” by officials preparing the treaty.
“I condemn the whole process which led to the signature of this agreement: no consultation of the civil society, lack of transparency since the beginning of negotiations, repeated delays of the signature of the text without any explanation given, reject of Parliament’s recommendations as given in several resolutions of our assembly.” -Kader Arif
The EFF have also commented on the lack of transparency from officials:
“While little information has been made available by the governments negotiating ACTA a document recently leaked to the public entitled “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement” from an unknown source gives an indication of what content industry rightsholder groups appear to be asking for – including new legal regimes to “encourage ISPs to cooperate with right holders in the removal of infringing material” criminal measures and increased border search powers. The Discussion Paper leaves open how Internet Service Providers should be encouraged to identify and remove allegedly infringing material from the Internet.” -EFF
This is a scary concept, far greater in significance than SOPA. If in the US, please contact your senators to demand more information on ACTA and sign this petition to oppose ACTA and keep the Internet free!