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FOIA Request For Pending Copyright Treaty Denied 364

Penguinisto writes "According to CNET, Knowledge Ecology International's FOIA request for information about ACTA was denied. ACTA is the pending copyright treaty believed to have been authored by lobbyists for the content cartels. Even stranger, the denial cited 'national security reasons (PDF). While it is not unusual for the White House of any administration to block FOIA requests for national security reasons, one would think that a treaty affecting civil interests alone wouldn't qualify for such secrecy. Not exactly sure what involvement the former RIAA mouthpiece Donald Verelli (a recent Obama pick for the DOJ) may have in this." KEI is not alone; the European Parliament wants to see the ACTA documents too.
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FOIA Request For Pending Copyright Treaty Denied

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  • All the more.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:25PM (#27183045)
    Wait... Didn't Obama say he was all for transparency? How less transparent can you get that you can't even disclose a treaty about copyright without it being a matter of "national security". Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
  • Power (Score:4, Informative)

    by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:27PM (#27183085)
    I think Obama has found a lot about how much power other people have in Washington in the past couple of months. He seems sincere about his desire to change things but change isn't going to come from one person.
  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:32PM (#27183165) Journal

    FYI, ACTA is much more than a "Copyright" treaty. I wish that's all it were about, but the "C" in ACTA stands for "Counterfeiting". There's been a recent rash of seizures [ip-watch.org] of legitimately produced generic drugs in the Netherlands, all on concerns about "counterfeiting." The pushing through of ACTA is likely only to make this sort of nonsense worse, and the effect on people's lives is real.

  • Lets be accurate: (Score:4, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:35PM (#27183211) Homepage Journal

    (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;

    Bold added by me.
    http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/foiastat.htm [usdoj.gov]

  • by Dusty00 ( 1106595 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:44PM (#27183353)
    What's more appalling about this is the official reason for said exception has no need to exist. Something that we've heard very little of in the past eight years when being denied information is that it's classified. Lest it's changed since I was in the service, the government has eight different types of classified that covers every possible legitimate reason to withhold information from the public. Any reason the government gives for withhold information that doesn't have classified in the sentences is an outright lie.
  • Obama... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:45PM (#27183367)

    may not have anything to do with this. His calling for transparency doesn't mean that every request for information comes across his desk. I'm sure that there is a lot of Bush-era cruft that is yet to be uncovered and rectified.

    That said, take a look at this page on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement

    Specifically the part about ISP Cooperation
    "ISP cooperation

    The leaked document includes a provision to force Internet service providers to provide information about suspected copyright infringers without a warrant, making it easier for the record industry to sue music file sharers and for officials to shut down non-commercial BitTorrent websites such as The Pirate Bay."

    More people truly need to be informed about this. I personally think conducting this act in secrecy says all I need to know about it. It should be protested against and voted against.

  • Re:Power (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:47PM (#27183393)

    He's only been in office for a 2 month! How much could he do/not do in 8 weeks? Not very much.

    He's responsible for every decision that has been made in the past 8 weeks. I'm a fair man, and I'm willing to say that processes that were in place as he took office aren't his fault... but that doesn't sound like it was the case here at all.

    The whole "Obama has broken his promises" thing is basically nothing but something Republicans babble about because they are sore losers.

    No, it's the truth. He broke his promises before he took office (see: promises about the FISA bill, which turned out to be bullshit when they weren't politically convenient for him any more), and he's breaking them now.

    Furthermore, attempting to polarize this matter into "omg Republicans vs Democrats" is naive of you, at best. I've already seen people who were happy Obama won, who have renounced their support after seeing what he's done so far in office. Not everything is about some stupid bullshit party allegiance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:55PM (#27183509)

    It was called the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment

  • Re:national security (Score:1, Informative)

    by TheAxeMaster ( 762000 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:55PM (#27183521)
    Perhaps you mean this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Rights_Amendment [wikipedia.org] ?
  • Re:national security (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hordeking ( 1237940 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:57PM (#27183539)

    You're going to need to cite proof of this because I can't find anything on the tubes about an "Equal Opportunity Amendment."

    He's referring to the Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA).

  • Blame Clinton (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:06PM (#27183681) Homepage

    Bill, that is. And yes, its his fault. Check out EO 12958 from 4/17/95:

      Section 1.1. Definitions. For purposes of this order:

    (a) "National security" means the national defense or foreign relations of the United States.
    (l) "Damage to the national security" means harm to the national defense or foreign relations of the United States from the unauthorized disclosure of information, to include the sensitivity, value, and utility of that information.

  • Re:national security (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:08PM (#27183735)

    And the bloodiest war in all of human history

    Suggest you read up on human history some more if you really believe that. I know Wikipedia isn't a great reference but its better than nothing:

    • American Civil War: 620,000 (soldier) deaths
    • Korean War: 4 million deaths
    • Vietnam War: 6 million deaths
    • World War I: 15 million deaths
    • World War II: 70 million deaths

    'the bloodiest war'? Not even close.

  • Re:national security (Score:4, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:12PM (#27183793)
    Your description of the "Equal Opportunity Amendment" sounds like the Equal Rights Amendment. Except that the ERA was strongly supported by NOW. Additionally 35 states ratified the ERA (although 5 have rescinded their ratification before the deadline for ratification passed). Finally, the ERA window of opportunity was the 70s, not the 80s. Otherwise your post describes the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Re:national security (Score:4, Informative)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:14PM (#27183819)

    Can you give an examples where the government worked against the will of the people?

    I think so, although some of these could probably be debated:

    • Southern Confederacy's desire to secede.
    • War in Vietnam.
    • Forcing the legality of gay marriage in Massachusetts (Mass. supreme court vs. majority of the state's voters, I believe.)
    • Possibly Prop 8 in California, depending on how that state's supreme court rules.
    • From some individual states' perspective, Roe vs. Wade
  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:15PM (#27183823) Journal

    First of all, as others pointed out, you must have meant the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Second, I'm fairly certain that NOW was one of the main forces behind the ERA, and that it was conservative forces raising fears that the ERA would lead to mixed-sex public restrooms and public funding for abortions which managed to shoot it down.

    In fact, now that I look, NOW's website appears to support the ERA, [now.org] so I have no idea where you're coming up with this stuff.

  • by wfstanle ( 1188751 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:15PM (#27183829)

    While I agree with your sentiment about the need to rework the treaty ratification process, you are wrong about the process of amending the constitution. I suggest that you read up on the amending process.

    There are two ways to change the constitution. First (and the only method that has been used) is by adopting an amendment to the constitution. It's an involved process where BOTH parts of the US senate must vote (possibly by a 2/3 vote, but I am not sure) to PROPOSE an amendment. Then the legislatures of 3/4 the states must approve the proposed amendment. Only when both steps are fulfilled can the amendment be added to the US constitution.

    The second method is to form a second constitutional convention. The new constitution would have to be approved by 3/4 of the state legislatures. The second option probably will never be used because it allows wholesale changes.

    Also note that the president of the US or the supreme court have no role to play. For practical purposes, changing the constitution is unlikely to happen. Also note that it is very hard to change the constitution because that is what the founding fathers intended. I think your real gripe is about the secrecy. This can easily be changed by a simple law that tightens what can be classified as a national security issue.

  • Re:All the more.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by infalliable ( 1239578 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:19PM (#27183893)

    Blaming Obama directly is probably a bit of a stretch in this regard. It is VERY UNLIKELY he had anything to do with the FOIA request.

    The only contact he would normally have would be a general guidelines given to the associated Agency. The Agency still is the one who deals with FOIA requests.

  • Re:national security (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rary ( 566291 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:27PM (#27184011)

    Government really should not be involved with religious sacraments and marriage is a religious sacrament.

    Actually, marriage existed as a civil institution long before religion stuck its nose into it.

    Perhaps what would be better would be for marriage to remain in the civil realm, thus avoiding any religious influence on who can marry whom, and instead allow religious institutes to perform "spiritual unions".

  • Re:national security (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nick Ives ( 317 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @02:33PM (#27184077)

    Um, that is the law in the UK. He could technically have insisted on it under the Disability Discrimination Act but I doubt he even thought of it.

    Firms in the UK have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. This doesn't cost them anything directly because they can get a grant from an Access to Work advisor at the local job-centre. This isn't even a left wing law in this country as the DDA was passed by John Major's government in 1995 as it dovetails with the Tory idea that everyone should have the equal opportunity to work and succeed.

  • Can somebody please explain to me how an international treaty qualifies as a national secret? o_O

    Once again, so much for transparency. Instead we get FUDge!

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday March 13, 2009 @03:14PM (#27184687)

    So, let me get this straight. Your take on democracy has no ability to counter a tyranny of the majority?

    "Tyranny of the majority" is exactly what democracy is. That's why the USA is a republic instead.

  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @03:36PM (#27184989) Journal

    "Tyranny of the majority" is exactly what democracy is. That's why the USA is a republic instead.

    Please. Quit being pedantic and using a definition of democracy that dates back to Aristotle.

    Actually, it's not even pedantry, it's just plain wrong. The definition of "democracy" is simply not "rule by the majority without any checks and balances" as everyone with the chorus "The U.S. is a republic not a democracy" seems to think.

    Just in case the "tyranny of the majority" that is the English language doesn't convince you, I'll provide an appeal to authority for you. "Democracy" defined by the Oxford English Dictionary:

    1. Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them (as in the small republics of antiquity) or by officers elected by them. In mod. use often more vaguely denoting a social state in which all have equal rights, without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege.

  • Re:national security (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @03:37PM (#27185007)


    US Constitution, Article I, Section 10, Paragraph 1:

    No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlei.html#section10 [cornell.edu]

  • Re:All the more.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @03:41PM (#27185053)

    You do not get to be president by being a nice honest guy

    Generally speaking that is probably true. However, Gerald Ford [wikipedia.org], the only US President who was appointed rather than elected (yes, that is possible albeit highly unlikely in our system), was by all accounts a genuinely nice guy. Of course, he sort of "fell into" the office of President so perhaps he should be considered an odd exception rather than the rule.

  • Re:national security (Score:3, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @04:47PM (#27185995) Journal

    Wasn't making treaties with foreign states one of the few things that Federal government is supposed to do according to the original interpretation of the U.S. Constitution? I had the impression that it was pretty much why it was there in the first place - and why the U.S. even exists as a single entity - because, for all the independence the states have (or had), in international affairs, they were always together; strength is unity, and all that.

  • Re:national security (Score:3, Informative)

    by Skjellifetti ( 561341 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:30PM (#27186597) Journal
    You have it the wrong way around. The real issue was indeed slavery. Federalism and States rights were just a legal smoke screen used by Southern politicians (and afterwords by Southern historians embarrassed by "the peculiar institution") to justify their desire to preserve slavery in the South and even expand slavery into the Western territories. One simple proof of this is that areas in the South without significant slave populations (e.g. West VA and East TN) voted overwhelmingly to stay in the Union. In the case of TN, there were two votes on secession. For both votes, the East TN (mostly small family farms with few slaves) no vote was balanced by the West TN (an area much like the deep plantation South with a large slave population) yes vote and the final vote (barely no then barely yes) was ultimately decided by Middle TN where the Cumberland Plateau area drops down into the Nashville basin and the economy became progressively more like the Deep South as you head West. A second bit of evidence is that the Republican Party was formed not to end or interfere with slavery in the existing Southern states, but merely to prevent its expansion into the Western territories. Furthermore, when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it explicitly applied only to States in rebellion and not to the slave holding border states partially because there were legal questions as to whether Lincoln had the power to interfere in what was viewed as a state issue (and partially because these states were voting to end slavery themselves anyway so there was little point in alienating the slave owning population of these states over the issue while the war was still raging).

    One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

    Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
  • Re:national security (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ashriel ( 1457949 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:38PM (#27186685)

    Let me try a few excerpts from this article [essortment.com]:

    It is very hard to be able to establish a true date on the first marriages although the Old Testament in the Bible does mention a little about marriage as it was considered a family and household affair...there is no mention of a formal exchange of vows or of a preacher or priest being present at this union.

    There were Romans who were very wealthy who would sign documents consisting of listing property rights and letting all know that they wanted this union to be legalized and not to be thought of as a common law marriage. Thus this began the official recording of marriages as we do today. Roman men could dissolve the marriage any time as it was a male privilege, not one accorded to females.

    In A.D. 527-565 during the rein of Justinian lawyers drew up laws called the Justinian Code and this was a regulation of their daily life including marriage. Up until the time of the Justinian Code just saying you were married was enough.

    Until the ninth century marriages were not church involved. Up until the twelfth century there were blessings and prayers during the ceremony and the couple would offer their own prayers. Then priests asked that an agreement be made in their presence. Then religion was added to the ceremony.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl