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Government The Internet

Secret ACTA Treaty May Sport "Internet Enforcement" Procedures After All 239

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the why-so-serious dept.
Andorin writes "Ars Technica writes about the recent work on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and reveals that while the public does not have access to the text of the agreement, a handful of lawyers representing Big Content and numerous companies and organizations do. 'Turns out that... ACTA will include a section on Internet "enforcement procedures" after all. And how many people have had input on these procedures? Forty-two. ... Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) found out in September that the US Trade Representative's office had actually been secretly canvassing opinions on the Internet section of the agreement from 42 people, all of whom had signed a nondisclosure agreement before being shown the ACTA draft text.'"
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Secret ACTA Treaty May Sport "Internet Enforcement" Procedures After All

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  • by TheCarp (96830) * <sjc@carp a n e t . net> on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:18PM (#29770473) Homepage

    It would be nice to see this linked from the article but.... the EFF has a page up to send your reps a request to call senate hearings on this issue:

    https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=383 [eff.org]

    I have been forwarding the link to everyone that I know, I recommend that everyone else who cares about transparency in the legal process to do the same.

    -Steve

  • by jdgeorge (18767) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:42PM (#29770785)

    They have been getting input from a good, broad selection of people? The corporate interests listed have legitimate interests, whether we like them or not. Others, such as the three representatives from Public [publicknowledge.org] Knowledge [wikipedia.org], are EXACTLY who I would want representing various other interests.

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:49PM (#29770849) Journal

    Or is it the fact that ACTA is a 'treaty' make it substantially different?

    Yes. It wouldn't become law until ratified by the Senate, and they are still in the stages of negotiating the draft text. Right now it's just a piece of paper, which apparently no one is allowed to see, despite FOIAs that have been filed, because both administrations have argued it's a matter of "national security." That's BS of course; the real reason is probably a combination of 1) public interest groups wouldn't like what was in the draft and 2) parties involved in the negotiation feel that opening up a draft text will impede honest negotiations.

    Both of those are probably true, however I think that fewer people would be up in arms of the secrecy of the draft text if some public interest groups were among the stakeholders allowed to see it. As it stands now, the groups being allowed to see it are not at all representative.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:50PM (#29770871) Journal

    It's actually a fairly old tradition that treaties are negotiated in secret. In most democracies, that's not supposed to be the point at which things are scrutinized. It's when you bring the treaty back that whatever branch of government responsible for ratifying the treaty does so and then the legislative branch passes laws to enact the treaty.

    That's why I'm not exactly losing sleep yet. Before most countries sign on to it, there's going to have to be a debate. Even in the UK, where the Queen technically is the ratifier, an Act of Parliament is required, and her ratification is going to be based on the advice of Her Ministers. In the US, the Senate does the ratification, so the terms are going to be heard anyways.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:52PM (#29770879)

    The "Big Content" and other companies are the ones that have a stake in anti-counterfeiting legislation, of course they are going to have primary input.

    How do you know this, unless you have seen the treaty? The treaty is likely to result in laws that get applied to everyone, not just "big content." I'd even say that if the treaty ends up not applying to anyone except big content, then there's no point of the treaty at all. That's like saying health care reform legislation will only effect doctors, and that patients, taxpayers and insurance companies don't have to worry about it.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday October 16, 2009 @02:39PM (#29771461) Journal

    ...but could someone please explain to me how, apart from any concern over contempt of democracy, we are supposed in the future to abide by laws we don't even have the right to read?

    Because it isn't a law yet. You do understand how treaties work, right? Treaties are negotiated, then, if agreed upon, ratified by the signatory nations, and then after that's all done, legislation is passed in each country that has ratified the agreement which gives the treaty the force of law. In fact, even after agreement has been met, treaties can be rejected. That's what happened to Woodrow Wilson in 1919 when he went back to the Senate with the League of Nations, and they sent him packing.

    Don't they teach any kind of civics courses in high school anymore?

  • Re:I for one... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Friday October 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#29771557)

    Couple of years?

    It's been going on for centuries. Ever hear of the East India Trading Company?

  • by cmiller173 (641510) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:00PM (#29771681)
    ACTA is not an organization, it is the name of a (currently proposed) treaty being negotiated by Office of the United States Trade Representative which is part of the US State Department (which is part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States). Even though the negotiations started before the current administration, they are being carried on by THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION! Since this is a part of the US government that is under the purview of the president he could simply by executive order make this public. So far he has not. That a trade agreement could be kept secret as a mater of national security is utterly spurious.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:06PM (#29771725) Journal
    Well, I can only suggest searching Thomas [loc.gov] for it. Good luck, it's not easy to search by date. If you don't know which Congress passed it, you'll need to check several Congresses...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:52PM (#29772231)

    There is an older (2007) version available on Wikileaks. [wikileaks.org]

    The reason that the newest draft hasn't been leaked is that the only people who have access to it are politicians and greedy corporate lobbyists, and neither group particularly likes freedom of information. If they were the only ones allowed to watch the Spiderman movies then we wouldn't be able to download those either.

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