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US Gov. Releases Six Pages On Secret ACTA Pact 86

Posted by kdawson
from the one-thousand-two-hundred-ninety-four-to-go dept.
narramissic writes "Change is afoot at the Office of the US Trade Representative. New details have been released about an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement that has been discussed in secret among the US, Japan, the European Union and other countries since 2006. Although the six-page summary (PDF) provides little in the way of specific detail about the current state of negotiations, the release represents a change in policy at the USTR, which had argued in the past that information on the trade pact was 'properly classified in the interest of national security.'" Michael Geist has a timeline that puts together more details about the ACTA negotiations than any government has so far been willing to reveal.
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US Gov. Releases Six Pages On Secret ACTA Pact

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  • My Optimistic Theory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:19PM (#27497251)

    My best case, optimistic theory is that the bureaucrat handling this paperwork classified it because they classify everything and think that is both acceptable and desirable to the people in charge. Then, There was a FOIA request and Obama ordered the executive branch to release everything unless they could document a real security reason to keep it classified. The people working on this, however, either did not pay attention to that order or did not take it seriously. Then, they started to hear murmuring about their actions on "the intarwebs" in relation to said executive order or at least someone noticed the discussion and made them aware. Now, they're in damage control mode and trying to cover their ass. They don't want to release the agreement itself because it might piss someone off, but they also don't want to do nothing because as an old school Republican appointee, appearing to ignore an executive order while also pissing off select members of the public sets them up for a dismissal and as a convenient scapegoat if the issue ever becomes more mainstream. They now fear for their job at the hands of of the negotiators and at the hands of the new Obama appointees. So they take this middle ground and (hopefully) try to pass the buck up the chain of command, where the real policy makers will make a decision.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:22PM (#27497857) Journal

      My best case, optimistic theory is that the bureaucrat handling this paperwork classified it because they classify everything and think that is both acceptable and desirable to the people in charge.
      ...
      So they take this middle ground and (hopefully) try to pass the buck up the chain of command, where the real policy makers will make a decision.

      Wrong.
      Everyone has been keeping ACTA a secret.

      A large number of countries were negotiating ACTA in complete secrecy for 7 months before a policy paper got uploaded to wikileaks last year. Since that leak 11 months ago, every single country party to the negotiations has released... absolutely nothing about ACTA.

      The most likely scenario is that the various politicians and industry lobbies are doing what they can to get their domestically impossible wish lists put into a treaty and have it all agreed upon before the public interest groups can get a chance to protest.

      When you can't get a shitty law passed at home, get it passed in a treaty.

      • Treaties must be approved by the Congress before they take the force of law within the United States, which presents ample opportunity for public interest groups to weigh in. See for the example the Colombia free trade agreement, which is stalled over union opposition.

        The problem for opponents of ACTA is that the type of people who oppose it tend to be independent folks who dislike mass organizing and lobbying, which makes it hard to track and affect pieces of legislation. Business groups on the other hand

    • We regret to inform you Miss Polyanna, but the Obama administration is a far more willing handmaiden to the MAFIAA than the Bushies.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:21PM (#27497275)

    The Declaration of Independence [ushistory.org] warned us about this. Specifically:

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

    You should read the rest of the document too, you might be startled to realize just how many of the reasons our country separated from its original government (the british) are presently true and in force. Frankly, secret treaties, secret courts, secret laws, and everything behind the veil of National Security... has now descended to matters as trivial as copyright. I think it's time to reconsider our perogative as Americans.

    • Wow. Every time I read that document, I get chills.

      VIVA LE REVOLUCION!

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That, and the Boston Tea Party was over taxes that are LESS than what we face now.

      Frog.
      Kettle of water.
      Slowly apply heat.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're also receiving better, and more government services than you were during Ye Olden times. Unless you wish to go back to the times before paved roads, public education for all(1), strong diversified defence(2), quality healthcare(3), decent civil protection(4), and all the other stuff you take for granted, learn to deal with the amount of tax you pay. Besides, the Boston Tea Party was an outcry against the level of taxation in proportion to the quality/quantity of service - ie, paying for nothing. The

        • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@ear ... t ['hli' in gap]> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @03:09AM (#27500361)

          I beg to dispute point 3:
          3) Yes, tax dollars do contribute a huge amount to healthcare - even more per capita than some public healthcare countries.

          Yes, as stated it's correct. Unfortunately you are measuring dollars spent rather than services provided. A very large part of the health-care budget is siphoned off by insurance company bureaucracies. Another large part is spent on research into drugs known to be useless in advance. (Well, not totally useless...their point is to maintain patent coverage over drugs that would soon be slipping out of patent coverage.) And, of course, the bureaucracy to manage such activities. And lobbyists.

          I'm sure that there are other features of the current system that I haven't mentioned that are equally wasteful. E.g., I don't know how much is spent promoting drugs known to be actually useless, or even harmful...i.e., known by those who conducted the research that was suppressed by the corporation funding the research. Occasionally such stories break into media coverage, but if one considers HOW such stories become known, it's very clear that what we hear about is less than the tip of the iceberg.

          I'll agree that tax dollars SHOULD promote the health of the citizenry. This isn't how dollars spent in the health field are used, however...except possibly 1/3 of them. And I'm including reasonable overhead for administrators of doctors and hospitals as being spent on health. The US not only spends very little on the health of the citizenry, what it spends it spends incredibly inefficiently. Research needs to be separated from manufacturing, and no manufacturer should have a monopoly on any drug. That's just a starting point, but it's an essential change. Exclusive licenses to sell drugs should be forbidden. Which means that the company that manufactures and sells the drugs must be separated from the company that does the development. Even that doesn't suffice. Negative results are as important as positive results, and MUST be published. The groups that verify a drug as safe and effective must not have a financial stake in selling the drug. (I'm sure you can see why.) Etc.

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            where public money is concerned you are probably correct, I don't see at all how you can dictate such rules to pharmaceuticals that use private cash for R&D.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Quothz (683368)

        Frog. Kettle of water. Slowly apply heat.

        That doesn't actually work.

        ...uh, I hear.

      • It wasn't the taxes they were objecting to so much as the fact they had no say in the matter. Taxation without representation. Now, ostensibly, we do have representation.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:44PM (#27498047) Journal

      I think it's time to reconsider our perogative as Americans.

      Why? I assume you are talking about a violent revolution? How many people do you think you would need supporting you in order to stage a revolution? 30%? 60%? If your revolution is going to be successful, you'll need more people for you than against you.

      Now, if you have that many people willing to support you, willing to DIE in order to get you to lead the country, why not just do it the normal way and get elected president? It would be so much simpler. That is why we don't need a revolution.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Why? I assume you are talking about a violent revolution? How many people do you think you would need supporting you in order to stage a revolution? 30%? 60%? If your revolution is going to be successful, you'll need more people for you than against you.

        You're an idiot if you think you need a majority to have a revolution. In truth, you may need as few as a hundred people, well placed and educated. Or you need billions, all mildly receptive to the idea. It depends on what is at stake, the will of the people, and a long list of other social intangibles. It's better to look at it in terms of social pressure than by mere numbers. A dozen people highly dedicated to a cause caused trillions of dollars in damage to this economy recently. It wasn't a revolution,

        • You're an idiot if you think you need a majority to have a revolution.

          Yes actually, at the very least the population needs to be complicit with their new ruler. The fall of the Soviet Union is a perfect example of this. Hardline soviet/KGB members tried a coup d'état, but it lacked popular support and ultimately failed. The Berlin wall equally so, there was a strong popular support for tearing down the wall.

          hence the aggressive need for suppression of free speech, excessive demands for secrecy, and the sudden and rapid reduction of civil liberties. They're trying to keep people from getting together in any large numbers and getting the idea in their head that now is the time for change and something spontanious develops and rips the guts out of the institution.

          So you're a conspiracy theorist. Now I have to ask you.....who is they? Can you pleeeease say, "The truth is out there" with a straight face? Cool, thanks. Who

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by flameproof (1460175)

            So you're a conspiracy theorist. Now I have to ask you.....who is they? Can you pleeeease say, "The truth is out there" with a straight face? Cool, thanks. Who is it? Is it the illuminati? The Jewish Cabal? Who is your preferred conspiracy group? Who is this 'they' that is trying to keep people from getting together in large numbers?

            I am no "conspiracy theorist", but I am very concerned about the lack of transparency in my own government and the open abuse of the power I have only one real choice (at this juncture in "history") to endow it with: by "voting my conscience". I really don't like the fog of "terrorist" paranoia my country is living under right now; it's much worse than I can remember when there was a so-called "communist threat"; not much of which, it turns out, was in any way real, hurt multitudes of innocent, good people

            • I am no "conspiracy theorist", but I am very concerned about the lack of transparency in my own government and the open abuse of the power I have only one real choice (at this juncture in "history") to endow it with: by "voting my conscience".

              Indeed lack of transparency and abuse of power is something to be concerned about, but it isn't the topic of my post. The GP was advocating revolution in the US, which is a bad idea. My point was that if you have enough power to start a revolution, you will have enough power to elect a president.

              Well, I have studied history. I know what a revolution looks like; it's ugly. People get killed. Good, innocent, just-minding-their-own business people.

              That's good, you know history, so you should know why a non-bloody change of government would be much better than a bloody one.

              • The GP was advocating revolution in the US, which is a bad idea. My point was that if you have enough power to start a revolution, you will have enough power to elect a president.

                You're putting words in my mouth. I'm not advocating anything except a reassessment of our values, which is a far cry from revolution. That said, the traditional elements required to start a coup de etat in this country are now present: High levels of poverty, frustration with the goverment, restriction of civil liberties, the expansion of police powers to record levels, the all-consuming quest for secrecy on the part of our government officials. The general public is pissed right now. If you're going to ig

                • You're putting words in my mouth. I'm not advocating anything except a reassessment of our values, which is a far cry from revolution.

                  I am not. Advocating a revolution was the original topic of discussion, when you entered. If you'd like to discuss something else, that is fine, we can do that.

                  That said, the traditional elements required to start a coup de etat in this country are now present: High levels of poverty, frustration with the goverment, restriction of civil liberties, the expansion of police powers to record levels, the all-consuming quest for secrecy on the part of our government officials

                  You're missing one: in order to have a revolution, there can't be a simpler alternative. Right now there is an outlet for people's anger, a way to change the government, and that is through voting. We can get rid of all our leaders without killing them. That is why there won't be a revolution: there are easier ways.

                  • You're missing one: in order to have a revolution, there can't be a simpler alternative. Right now there is an outlet for people's anger, a way to change the government, and that is through voting. We can get rid of all our leaders without killing them. That is why there won't be a revolution: there are easier ways.

                    Just to play devil's advocate, I'll ask.

                    How is it, exactly, that voting can change the government? Catchy campaign slogans notwithstanding, I've not seen any change in quite a few years. there doesn't seem to be any shortage of "We don't have to tell you that" attitude from any of the Plutarchs we're given to vote for.

                    • How is it, exactly, that voting can change the government?

                      Good question. The truth is each vote has only the power of one in 60 million (depending on how many people vote), which isn't much. So while YOU may not have been satisfied with the "we don't have to tell you that" attitude, most voters are. I can't tell you how many times during the leadup to the Iraq war I heard, "Bush is our president, so we should trust him. He must know something we don't." Which of course turned out to be false. It was annoying. As long as the majority is willing to put up wit

                    • Call me cynical, but I'm not sure I believe that "more and more people are getting frustrated." It might *seem* that way, but I'm not ready to discount that it's the typical partisan bullshit. A lot of those idiots you mentioned blindly following bush over the past 9 years minus 3 months are now "frustrated" because the other team won the super bowl last year, so to speak. Now THEY are frustrated and want change, while the noisy idiots from before are now quiet and complacent because *their* guy won. Sure,

                    • By the by - I checked out your P:5Y lemming movie. I get where you're going with this and although I respect it and your right to believe what you may, short of Jesus H. Christ coming down from heaven in a sparkly cloud of gumdrops, there's no freakin' way I'm ever going to hand over my .303 and run right off to a voting booth hoping to effect miraculous, invisible "change" topped with whipped cream and a cherry.

                      But good luck with that and I hope you can prove all of us cynical bastards wrong! We certa
              • The GP was advocating revolution in the US, which is a bad idea. My point was that if you have enough power to start a revolution, you will have enough power to elect a president.

                I'm no longer sure that "revolution in the US" is such a bad idea; if those that stay in power will not release it to the people, what choice do we have? Peacefully asking "please" a billion times? Ya. Not so sure that would work. Pretty sure those at the front of that crowd with the long hair and flowers will get jack-booted right in the face. Additionally: WHO SAYS WE NEED A PRESIDENT? How about a three party commitee? A Mother Superior? Or a Chief Big Wumpum? ANYTHING other than an EXECUTIVE i

          • Actually, historical evidence suggests that a revolution needs somewhere around 30% of the population to strongly support it to succeed. The American Revolution had about 1/3 of the population strenuously supporting it, about 1/3 strenuously opposed (Tories/Loyalists), and about 1/3 neutral. I have seen similar breakdowns of other successful revolutions but I no longer remember which countries/areas they were.
        • by msouth (10321)

          A dozen people highly dedicated to a cause caused trillions of dollars in damage to this economy recently. It wasn't a revolution

          That's the funniest assertion I've heard all day.

        • The bottom line is that national security has become such an all-consuming goal for our government precisely because these intangible social factors point to this country being in a period of extreme suseptibility to losing control of its population, hence the aggressive need for suppression of free speech, excessive demands for secrecy, and the sudden and rapid reduction of civil liberties. They're trying to keep people from getting together in any large numbers and getting the idea in their head that now is the time for change and something spontanious develops and rips the guts out of the institution.

          Forgive me, but that was so brilliant it just needed repeating.

          Permission to quote?

        • by pdxdan0 (1017326)
          The Soviet Union fell in a matter of hours, the Berlin Wall in a week. You are kidding. The seeds of the destruction of the Soviet Union were planted before WWII was even over. Nothing happens on that scale in hours, weeks or months. That truly is naive. The history behind the events the you mention span decades. And, yes, Virginia (girlintraining right?) the US is more impervious to the kind of social unrest you are implicating. For all of our insane federalism, we still have effective state and loc
      • by pjt33 (739471)

        Wish I could remember the source, but I do recall reading an analysis which placed the necessary support for a terrorist/guerrilla movement to survive at 5%. That's not 5% willing to die: it's 5% willing to provide safe houses.

        • I would actually put it at lower than that, say, maybe 500 people, as long as they have a place to hide. A dedicated group like that can do a lot of damage. Damaging things is different than taking over the country, however; taking over a country is a lot harder.
      • by the_arrow (171557)

        I assume you are talking about a violent revolution?

        Yes, violence [wikipedia.org] is the only solution.

    • Yes, actually. It's part of transnationalism. Obama is a transnationalist. Here's a brief review [nationalreview.com] of one of his appointees. The basic idea is to destroy the structures of the nation-state and replace them with a global government, Star Trek style. Of course, just like Star Trek, the council of the wise will run the world, and archaic concepts like democracy and self-rule will be relegated to the dustbin of history.
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:51PM (#27497551) Homepage Journal
    http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Category:ACTA [wikileaks.org]

    eg.
    http://wikileaks.org/wiki/ACTA_negotiations_brief_on_Border_Measures_and_Civil_Enforcement_2008 [wikileaks.org]
    "Rights holders to get the right to obtain information regarding an infringer, their identities, means of production or distribution and relevant third parties."
  • Change is not afoot. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peektwice (726616) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:16PM (#27497809)
    This isn't change. It's appeasement. Event TFA states that the paper's goal is to clarify ACTA's objective, not to show its actual language. However, when the final agreement appears, if ever, it probably won't look anything like what you expect it to be. It'll be an abomination that preserves nothing in the way of individual rights, and likely will go far to extend corporate plutocracy.
  • During their private meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama gave the monarch a personalized iPod with video footage of her 2007 visit to Washington and Virginia and preloaded with 40 show tunes, in blatant violation of copyright law [today.com].

    The 9000-word iTunes or Amazon MP3 contracts establish licensing, not ownership, of the file, for personal, not commercial or diplomatic use. Furthermore, should the Queen connect her new iPod to a computer, further copies will b

  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:11PM (#27498271)

    5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1) says
                    "(b) This section does not apply to matters that are -
                    (1)(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an
                      Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national
                      defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified
                      pursuant to such Executive order"

    Guess what? It's pretty standard to have an executive order that prohibits releasing treaty negotiation documents. The denial does not mean that it was "classified" in the sense of it being confidential, secret, or top secret". FOI requests are routinely denied because the information is proprietary, personnelle, or sensitive.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      It's pretty standard to have an executive order that prohibits releasing treaty negotiation documents. The denial does not mean that it was "classified" in the sense of it being confidential, secret, or top secret".

      Uhhh... sure.
      But that isn't the problem.

      The **AAs of the world have been given a chance to contribute to the treaty, but we the people haven't. And in the USA's case, they were quite literally given a seat at the table, since Obama has been appointing **AA lawyers to high level positions in his Administration.

      So I'd suggest that it is not "pretty standard" to begin negotiating multi-lateral trade treaties in complete secrecy from the public. Further, I'd say that it is not "pretty standard" to include trade

  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:51PM (#27498537)
    It's more likely they denied the FOI request simply because the general public would be outraged at potential loss of civil rights should this treaty be signed.

    This is scary stuff, although it seems mostly conjecture at this point. Frightening to think that they gave the recording and movie industry access and even consulted with them according to rumor, while leaving civil rights groups out in the cold.

    I'd suggest folks start calling their local papers and news channels asking why they aren't bringing this issue into public awareness. I just did the same with my local news and MSNBC.
  • How are you gentlemen !!
    All your freedoms are belong to us.
    You are on the way to lawsuit.
    You have no chance to win make your time.
    Ha ha ha ha...
    Take off every 'MPEG AUDIO LAYER 3'!!
    You know what you doing.
    Move 'MPEG AUDIO LAYER 3'.
    For great justice.
  • This is the first that I am hearing about this?? I am not surprised though. I hope that this act will protect those who use the net. But I hope that it will not limit our usage or make the net less enjoyable.
  • by Maudib (223520) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:19AM (#27499881)

    Please, I would hardly take this as any indication that Flash is better then Silverlight.

    MLB Advance Media is quite ahead of the curve in terms of sports media in many ways. They have fantastic statistical databases, great content and a solid business model.

    Technology however is NOT their strength. Having spend some time in their offices and talking to their people it is clear that they lack strong organizational direction or awareness of best practices or current events in technology. Until last year most of their forms (assuming you could find what you needed) resulted in ugly JSP errors. Their streaming of live games never failed to dissapoint, turn that sucker all the way down on high speed and it was still a slide show.

    Internally they haven't a clue how to plan for a robust SOA envirnoment. No consistency across APIs, services at the edge are arranged by maintainers not functionality. On top of all that their hardware are all ancient sun boxes. Need a database? No matter how small or simple the task, throw Oracle at it.

    Then there is the last issue, the one that really gets be about MLB Advanced Media. The blackout restrictions on games.

    If you subscribe to MLB TV, all games in the media market associated with the zipcode of your credit card are blocked out, regardless of where you are physically viewing the game from. This isn't a shortcut because they lack the ability to determine your location. This is obvious because they also black out all games in the media market in which your connection is located.

    I live in NYC. I want MLB TV so that when I am the road I can watch a Mets game. They backout the Mets game despite knowing that I am in Denver and cant get the game on cable or broadcast. I know they know I can't get the game on broadcast or cable, because they GEO LOCATE ME AND BLACKOUT THE ROCKIES TOO!

    WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF THIS SERVICE IF YOU CANT USE IT TO WATCH YOUR HOME TEAM WHEN YOU ARE ON THE ROAD? DOES THIS MAKE SENSE TO ANYONE?!?!?!?!!?!

    So last year after determining the worthlessness of their service I tried to cancel. Of course they cant even fucking do proper error handling and the damn cancellation form dumps out to some ugly JSP exception, forcing me to spend over an hour on the phone with customer service to try and cancel. After all that I can get them to take me off their mailing lists.

    GOD DO THEY SUCK!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Uh...you posted on the wrong article.

  • With the US economy in the toilet, counterfiting is probably skyrocketing, at least in the US.

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