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US Gov. Releases Six Pages On Secret ACTA Pact 86

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n> 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.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb