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Two Senators Call For ACTA Transparency 214

angry tapir writes "Two US senators have asked President Barack Obama's administration to allow the public to review and comment on a controversial international copyright treaty being negotiated largely in secret. The public has a right to know what's being negotiated in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Senators Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and Bernard Sanders, a Vermont Independent, argue in the letter."
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Two Senators Call For ACTA Transparency

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  • ROFLCOPTER (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:16PM (#30221978)

    Why legislate in the open when you can negotiate secret treaties in the dark?

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    It doesn't matter if this treaty is filled with rainbows and puppies. It needs to be killed as a matter of principle. Free people and free nations do not make law in the dark.

  • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:20PM (#30222006)

    "We got more senators than that"

    Indeed. It's a shame that only 2% of the senate is willing to stand up against this gross violation of transparency and democratic principles. Good luck to Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown and anyone else who might join them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:25PM (#30222042)
    During the election, about 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Hussein Obama due solely to the color of his skin. See the exit-polling data [] by CNN.

    Note the voting pattern of Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc. These non-Black minorities serve as a measurement of African-American racism against Whites (and other non-Black folks). Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor John McCain is Hispanic or Asian. So, Hispanics and Asian-Americans used only non-racial criteria in selecting a candidate and, hence, serve as the reference by which we detect a racist voting pattern. Only about 65% of Hispanics and Asian-Americans supported Obama. In other words, a maximum of 65% support by any ethnic or racial group for either McCain or Obama is not racist and, hence, is acceptable. (A maximum of 65% for McCain is okay. So, European-American support at 55% for McCain is well below this threshold and, hence, is not racist.)

    If African-Americans were not racist, then at most 65% of them would have supported Obama. At that level of support, McCain would have won the presidential race.

    At this point, African-American supremacists (and apologists) claim that African-Americans voted for Obama because he (1) is a member of the Democratic party and (2) supports its ideals. That claim is an outright lie. Look at the exit-polling data [] for the Democratic primaries. Consider the case of North Carolina. Again, about 95% of African-Americans voted for him and against Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats, and their official political positions on the campaign trail were nearly identical. Yet, 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama and against Hillary Clinton. Why? African-Americans supported Obama due solely to the color of his skin.

    Here is the bottom line. Barack Hussein Obama does not represent mainstream America. He won the election due to the racist voting pattern exhibited by African-Americans.

    African-Americans have established that expressing "racial pride" by voting on the basis of skin color is 100% acceptable. Neither the "Wall Street Journal" nor the "New York Times" complained about this racist behavior. Therefore, in future elections, please feel free to express your racial pride by voting on the basis of skin color. Feel free to vote for the non-Black candidates and against the Black candidates if you are not African-American. You need not defend your actions in any way. Voting on the basis of skin color is quite acceptable by today's moral standard.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:41PM (#30222154)

    The way US politics and campaign finance are run, there is no way to make a credible run for office unless you are "same as the old boss."

    If you don't like that fact, find a way to change it. But don't complain that a system designed to perpetuate itself continues to look the same.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:15PM (#30222376)

    American was not interested in a racist religious nutbag.

  • by laddiebuck ( 868690 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:28PM (#30222446)

    It never was -- there aren't good old days. Transparency and openness only became possible with mass media, mass literacy and cheap papers a century to a century and a half ago, depending on how you look at it. Before then, you had to be a wealthy landowner just to [i]vote[/i] -- you think there was transparency and openness?

  • by Nithendil ( 1637041 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:35PM (#30222472)

    Ron Paul may be a homophobic, racist, religious, evolution denying nutbag, but at least he isn't a globalist, corporatist, wiretapping immunity wishwashing, patriot-act handwaving, trillion dollar handouts for everyone nutbag. While it is nice to have a president whose morals and ideology matches your own, at this point I would be supremely happy to just have someone who isn't a scumbag willing sell out our rights or future for the highest dollar. Or perhaps it is me who is crazy and just doesn't see the big picture of how we can continue to spend money we do not have on a recession caused by us spending money we do not have.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:39PM (#30222496)

    Remember to keep your bogus enquiries going through to these twats' online customer support people. Be subtle though, as they are ignoring people based on IP address.

  • by weston ( 16146 ) <> on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:01AM (#30222628) Homepage

    We are supposed to have a House of Representatives but it's really a House of whatever [insert current speaker here] wants to allow to the floor.

    And the house leadership is selected by elected members of the house, who are presumably representatives of their district, given that's how they get elected. Sounds representative to me. Probably was more so before the mid 90s when party loyalty and fundraising became a bigger criteria for leadership than seniority, so if you're complaining that party politics distorts the picture, I'd agree, but it's still essentially a function of who gets elected.

    Our Government stopped being about transparency and democratic principles a long time ago.

    To the extent that this is true, it's because this is what we (as a whole) really want. Not what we say we want. We might say we want information and transparency, but frankly, even most of the attentive people I know outside the legislature simply don't pay *careful* attention. They might have hobby horses and hot-button topics, but very few of us have the stomach for careful analysis.

    We get the government we have because generally we prefer to focus on our own lives, and when we're not, we prefer entertainment and passionate expression of our general philosophies over thoughtful, nuanced, nuts-and-bolts policy discussion. And because most of us need to be *paid* to seriously research a position and then go down and talk to members of congress about it -- or talk to each other reasonably about it. No surprise the people who will pay others to do that are best represented.

    If you're one of the few people who donates to organizations that lobby and do legal work, that takes the time to cite policy research instead of simply ranting when you write your reps and senators, that understands the opposition positions and research well enough to know which of their points are respectable and which are refutable, that might even know (and be known to) some of the congressional staff by name, then congratulations, you're one of the few what I'm saying doesn't apply to.

    But for the rest of us, well, the government as it now stands is essentially a reflection of our real habits and values instead of our ideals.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:03AM (#30222638) Journal

    Just a reminder: both of these excellent senators are considered by the media to be on the extreme far-left.

    Goes to show just how badly "framing" has warped political discussion in the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:05AM (#30222656)

    Well, I want to believe.

    I want to believe that we can buy our way out of a recession with money loaned to us by China.

    I want to believe that real change is just around the corner and we just have to wait for the country, economy and rest of the world to catch up.

    I want to believe that we can offer health care to everyone for free without it costing anyone more money.

    I want to believe that we can just blame George Bush for everything that is wrong and with him out of the presidency we don't have to worry about any of those things anymore.

    I want to believe that the US can abandon commitments to the rest of the world without consequences just because our priorities change. Let Israel, former Soviet countries and everyone else just fend for themselves.

    I want to believe that the US can accept everyone that can make it here as a new citizen without any difficulties. I want to believe we can take care of them all, because, well, that's the way it should be.

    I want to believe that government managed health care can be free, open to all, and much, much better than what we have today.

    I want to believe that money is irrelevant and we should just focus on goodness, love and peace.

    Unfortunately, it is really hard to believe stuff like this. I keep trying to convince the bank they should take "peace" and "love" instead of a check for the mortgage. I try to convince my employees that goodness and love is more important than a salary or benefits. So far, it isn't working out all that well.

    So as much as I'd like to believe, I am faced with reality which doesn't allow for believing in stuff like this.

  • by GumphMaster ( 772693 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:12AM (#30222690)
    The "way out" if ACTA makes it into US (or Australian in my case) law is to cripple the very economy that the people with their fingers in the ACTA pie are claiming to protect. Don't buy DRM encrusted shite. If the company openly supports ACTA, or is known to have had a hand in writing it, then don't buy their product at all. If they want to bleat about the loss of inflated potential earnings they consider their corporate birth-right then we should cause them some actual losses to teach a lesson through their shareholders. Publish details of every corporate ACTA author, every frivolous law suit, every three-strikes termination, every ludicrous over-reach of reasonable privilege (these are NOT rights, corporate entities and balance sheets are NOT people). They might claim there's no such thing as bad publicity: bollocks. Don't cede fair use (I think there would be a rich vein of parody to be had). Above all, educate the 'sheeple', they can't act on what they don't know (and almost certainly won't be presented to them by the vested interests in the 'media'). If a law is unjust then the people in a democracy have a right to have it changed or overturned and should vote by various means, although I suspect money is the most effective in this case.
  • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:23AM (#30222754) Homepage

    Our current plethora of unconstitutional laws and policies would suggest that's not the case.

  • by donaggie03 ( 769758 ) <> on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:25AM (#30222778)
    The supreme court gave itself the power to rule that laws passed by congress were unconstitutional. I believe it remains to be seen whether the supreme court would extend the scope of that power to include treaties signed by the president.
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:25AM (#30222782) Homepage Journal

    Don't buy DRM encrusted shite. If the company openly supports ACTA, or is known to have had a hand in writing it, then don't buy their product at all.

    At which point the following occurs:

    [corp exec]: Senator, we're losing even more money to those Evil Content Pirates)(tm)!!!! Here's a bucketful of money. We need the death penalty for copyright infringement.

    Senator: OK.

  • by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:28AM (#30222806)
    I wish they would convert it to metric for the world outside of the US.

    Is that center or center-right?
  • by lazy_nihilist ( 1220868 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:00AM (#30222948)
    Bernie Sanders is one of the few politicians I IMMENSELY RESPECT. Though I am ideologically opposed to Ron Paul, I admire his honesty and straightforwardness as well. If only the rest of the politicians were like these. Wishful thinking on my part.
  • by g-lock82 ( 993180 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:25AM (#30223058)
    Same here in Australia. I used to hate it, until I realised that it prevented lobby groups from buying a sole representative to do their bidding. Now they've gotta buy the whole party.
  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:02AM (#30223210) Homepage

    Maybe you want to believe that crap, but most of us want to stop hearing jingoistic misrepresentations, exaggerations and outright lies. Unfortunately, neither you nor the rest of us seem destined to get what we want.

  • Re:In secret?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:33AM (#30223300) Homepage
    Actually, they can. Military treaties have to be approved by the Senate, but if the authority of the president permits him to pass an executive order governing the contents of the treaty, only he needs to sign it. It's a process called Fast Tracking and this wouldn't be the first one to be approved that way.
  • by celle ( 906675 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @03:27AM (#30223500)

    "Reading political discourse among most slashdotters is like watching old people fuck."

    So is trying to understand the morass of a legal system we have, as a plain citizen, considering its written by lawyers for lawyers.

    "It's messy, clumsy, and a little bit revolting."

    A little bit revolting???!!!!!!

    Maybe every congressmen should be forced to vote publicly on each and every law/decision that is made and none of this committees/combined bill crap. They might actually spend some real time actually working on the congressional floor doing their job for more than a few days a year. That is instead of spending those few days grandstanding on predetermined bills/garbage that's little more than an embarrassment with the crap that's packed in. How can we expect any kind of transparency when no one is directly voting on the laws that are being passed.
    The sick part is this is just the way they want it.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @03:59AM (#30223618)

    Stay where you are! In Vermont they already vote decent representatives in, vote some in in your state.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @04:14AM (#30223674)

    Personally, it reads like they want to know what ACTA is about before they are for or against it. Which is basically what I'd expect from a level headed politician. What they want is that the legislative (ya know, the body that SHOULD actually make the laws. If you think that's the prez's job, you're essentially wrong) can do its job. What I'd guess they want is to take back the power that has somehow appearanty creeped towards the prez (who represents another power, actually) while nobody was looking.

    One of the cornerstones of a democratic, non-authoritarian government is that separation of powers. The creed is that no person should have more power than he absolutely needs. The US founding fathers saw that in certain situations it might be necessary to act swiftly so they created that office of the president and gave him the extraordinary position of wielding the executive power in his single hand, because executing laws can be a matter that cannot wait until you have assembled hundreds of people and got them to find a consensus.

    Creating new laws, on the other hand, is something that should, must take time. It should be pondered and considered, by many brains with many different views, so every aspect these laws could affect can be taken into consideration. Good laws rarely come from one single person. No person has all the facts, no person takes every possible consequence into consideration, so many people can crate better laws that benefit most.

    Ok, ok, so far the theory, because we know how much rubberstamping is going on, with few senators even knowing what they vote on. But at least they should have the power to do so, if they take their job seriously and don't just want to have good salary with little to no work or responsibility.

    I'd guess they want their duty back. Whether they're eventually for or against it, only time will tell. But they want to know what they vote on, and given that most Senators don't, I'd consider that a good sign.

  • Re:In secret?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Max Littlemore ( 1001285 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @05:07AM (#30223918)

    Yeah but I did mention the Crown. This is why, as an Australian, I still support the monarchy. I don't care much about the queen, I'm sure she's lovely, but the Crown gives us a certain amount of protection.

    it's a perfect example of how the constitutional monarchy actually provides freedom from rampant capitalism.

    Yank baiting aside, the reason I responded directly like that without modifying my thoughts for American consumption is that /. is international and Australia, Canada and Great Britain are in ACTA negotiations. I don't know if this is common in the Commonwealth, but at least here, they can't make it legal without parliament and if they do it is potentially a serious offense. Maybe I'm just rubbing it in.

    So basically we can sign the treaty to do the usual brown nose and it won't be law for but it will for you. Geez, you the people nedd to reclaim your constitution.

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @06:42AM (#30224428)

    There are numerous easy solutions to solve the campaign finance issue. However, none of them will ever get anywhere because the current system has far too many very rich, very powerful people involved.

  • Secrecy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @08:39AM (#30224886)
    Damn sleep, missed the beginning of this one. Secrecy is the antithesis of Democracy. Unless your talking about your newest super-duper kill-em-all weapon then secrecy is Evil. It hides agendas, it does not promote truth and it allows people to push their petty prejudice onto everyone. It's Evil. Whatever is decided do it in the open with all parties being on the level.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @09:49AM (#30225278) Homepage

    If the company openly supports ACTA, or is known to have had a hand in writing it, then don't buy their product at all.

    One of the (many) truly bad things about the ACTA is that it includes punishments for repeated accusations of piracy. So let's say you decide to not buy MPAA/RIAA products and say so publicly. The MPAA/RIAA could accuse you of pirating (even without any evidence whatsoever) a few times and you'd be kicked offline. So even if you aren't pirating, but are just a nuisance, they can say you are pirating, get you kicked offline and force you to spend time and money on a lawsuit to not only clear your name, but to get yourself back online. In other words, under ACTA, big media companies hold all the cards and you'd better submit to their will or else.

  • by leftie ( 667677 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @10:47AM (#30225826)

    Better go look up the World Trade Organization. Half the stuff that organization does is by means of processes that aren't transparent at all. There's not been even a hint that anyone in the legal community might suggest the WTO has done anything improper.

    If you wish to fight ACTA, you better get off your butt and do it now. The lawyers aren't going to fight it afterward.

  • by amplt1337 ( 707922 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @10:54AM (#30225892) Journal

    There are numerous easy solutions... However, none of them will ever get anywhere

    Based on your statement, I think we may have different understandings of the word "easy."

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @11:05AM (#30226020) Homepage had to be a wealthy landowner just to vote...

    This didn't last long, but the idea was that voters ought to have a stake in the system. There's an argument for that. The USA is very nearly to the point that more than half of the voters either pay no taxes, or receive a net payout from the federal government []. Once the majority can vote themselves largess at the expense of the minority, the game is over. It's only a matter of time till the corpse stops twitching.

    There is a strong argument for saying that only people who pay taxes should be allowed to vote. Anyone who receives more in benefits that they pay in should be ineligible - it ain't their money, they don't get to say how it's spent. This includes not only those who do not pay taxes, but also essentially all government employees.

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