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Making Sense of ACTA 155

Hodejo1 writes "This past week Guadalajara, Mexico hosted the 7th secret meeting of ACTA proponents who continue to ignore demands worldwide to open the debate to the public. Piecing together official and leaked documents from various global sources, Michael Geist has coalesced it all into a five part ACTA Guide that offers structured insight into what these talks might foist upon the populace at large. 'Questions about ACTA typically follow a familiar pattern — what is it (Part One of the ACTA Guide listing the timeline of talks), do you have evidence (Part Two), why is this secret (Part Three), followed by what would ACTA do to my country's laws (Part Four)? Countering the momentum behind ACTA will require many to speak out" (Part Five).'"
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Making Sense of ACTA

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  • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:23PM (#30972578) Homepage

    how it would be constitutional to enact laws that were developed behind closed doors by private interests?

  • It's all about standardizing shipping documents between countries. If you have ever tried to ship something bigger than a letter to the U.S., you'd find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time filling out forms just to get it into the American borders.

    ACTA aims to make this pain equal across the board. In some ways it will protect shippers because the better they describe the contents of the package, the less likely it will be to be targeted for extra search measures. On the other hand, who in their right mind ever tells the complete truth on shipping documents? Shipping company hardware overseas isn't a gift, and it isn't really a "customer sample", and it definitely isn't a "commercial sample" or any other category listed on the document. So you usually just mark it as something random and give it a value of 50USD and hope for the best.

    God help you if you try to send anything that could possibly generate radio signals. There is an additional form just for that.

    The ACTA will pass because it will make it easy to manage documentation for shipping. There won't be a need to keep different forms for different countries at the post office or FedEx counter anymore. Everyone just uses the same ridiculously difficult forms that require signing in triplicate and exact descriptions of the shipment items.

    Good day, Citizen. Papers please.

  • waggers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by epine ( 68316 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:35PM (#30972678)

    USTR head Ron Kirk has reportedly said that countries would walk away from the treaty if the text were made available

    I don't get this. If our elected leaders walk off on the job, we already have a mechanism in place to fix this: a general election. Maybe the next batch is willing to contend with the issue under democratic conditions, such as open consultation.

    Oh, you mean only the tinpots will walk away from the table, which will hurt us more than it hurts them. Why didn't you make yourself clear in the first place? Democracy is good, except when negotiating with tinpots, which necessarily takes place on their terms, in the best interest of all concerned.

    Nice tail-wags-the-dog justification for subverting democratic transparency.

    Or is there something I missed here? Did I skip an essential chapter in Democracy for Dummies? I feel so stupid. Our politicians are willing to shine their eminent sensibilities on this problem and all they want is a little secrecy to work their magic for the good of humanity? There's just no respect in this world, is there?

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:39PM (#30972756)

    if true i do hope that everyone calls that bluff. that way American content will finally die the death that it needs to. I don't know about you but all the good stuff is filmed in other countries anyways.

  • Re:waggers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:48PM (#30972856)
    Perhaps this is the best solution. If the current proposals are so embarrassing (or whatever) to the parties negotiating them that they don't want to do so in the light of day, then drop the whole thing. Step back, take another look at the problem and come back when everyone has some ideas that they're not ashamed to publish.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:03PM (#30973030)

    American content will finally die the death that it needs to. I don't know about you but all the good stuff is filmed in other countries anyways.

    That's an awfully subjective view of American media. The objective view is that the most popular content worldwide is produced by America.

    Say what you want about the quality of "American content", but you'll find that most people will not agree with you.

  • by Ifni ( 545998 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:08PM (#30973062) Homepage


    From the article: efforts at the international level to fight counterfeiting and piracy

    I have to wonder at the increase and sudden newsworthiness of Somalian piracy during the private talks around ACTA. When it comes time to present it to the public, talk of counterfeiting and piracy will elicit images of counterfeit currency and Somalian pirates and the average Joe that hasn't read much about the document will assume that those opposing it are a bunch of crazies. Finally, the years of equating unauthorized IP distribution with piracy will come to fruition for our dark masters.


    In all seriousness, though, whether planned by some diabolical secret cabal or not, I can see this confusion being purposefully used to sway the view of the common citizen.

  • by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:54PM (#30973560)

    So what? Its on the front page of a half-dead geek website every other day. How often is it mentioned on the cover of a national paper? How often is it mentioned on a news channel on TV? What percentage of the population has even heard of ACTA? Maybe 5%? How many care? 1%?

    Well, here in Sweden it's been mentioned in the national media, but then we also have Pirate party representatives in the EU parliament...


  • Re:No Jokes Here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lennier ( 44736 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:27PM (#30973928) Homepage

    Actually.... there have been people rather like Batman in the 1930s era. Private millionaires who bankrolled much of WW2 military R&D.

    Look up Howard Hughes, Alfred Loomis, Floyd Odlum, William Stephenson, 'Wild Bill' Donovan. Those boys got up to interesting stuff, sometimes working for 'the government' and sometimes on their own time (and dime). They weren't all friends of Hoover and FDR.

    And to be honest, that heritage still exists today. Some of the same types of characters surfaced in teams Nixon, Reagan and Bush. Private military contractors, private defense contractors. Wackenhut/Group4, Blackwater/XE, KBR, Halliburton...

    Batman is alive and well.

  • Re:Fuck ACTA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by martas ( 1439879 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @07:01PM (#30974868)
    While I agree with the general idea behind your post, I fail to see how immigrants (evil, evil immigrants) fit there. IHMO, the biggest problem with the US gov't today is that it is a "democratic" government where elected officials are more worried about money than their own voters, especially since these days votes are won not through argument and opinion, but through ads and shady campaigns that overwhelm the voter with so much garbage that he no longer thinks about what's best for him, but rather what some cheap slogans that have been crammed in his brain tell him to do. Even language, what is supposed to be a tool for communication, has become tainted and twisted and bent into something that provokes animalistic emotion in the listener, not thought and reason. I bet if you looked at the brain of the average American through an fMRI when he heard words such as Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative, healthcare, terrorism, etc, the areas you'd see lighting up would imply something very disturbing. Immigrants aren't this country's biggest problem. Nor is it terrorists, oil, healthcare, global warming, etc. The biggest problem is that government is no longer for the people, or by the people (if it ever was, of course).
  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:12PM (#30976108)

    The law only works because the majority of the population respect it.

    As you say, once you make a law that the majority don't want to honor and respect, the law is unenforceable.

    As they say, they can't put us ALL in jail.

  • by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:20PM (#30976174) Journal
    Write to your representatives in the national government. It might not mean much, but it's the best (legal) way to get your voice heard. The same arguments why not voting is a bad idea generally apply here.

    The best thing is, it might only take one country pulling out to put the ACTA into question everywhere.
  • Won't/Can't happen (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:36PM (#30976276) Journal

    > Imagine a closed Internet where every communication, every URL and every download is logged.

    Cannot happen. Well, at least effectively. Because of things called "steganography" [wikipedia.org] and "perfect forward secrecy" [wikipedia.org].

    So, no. The only closed Internet is a a read-only Internet.

    It does lower the bandwidth a lot. But as Thing 1 already replied to you, the high-bandwidth stuff can be done by sneakernet.

    Your fear from Trusted Computing is more real. But even there, we are close to the point where third-world countries can host illicit fabs for untrusted computing platforms. Well, I suppose if possession of untrusted computing would be punished draconianly.... but if it gets that bad, the third world will be looking like a really good place to live for a lot of us technophiles....

  • by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <fred_weigel AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @10:08PM (#30976522) Journal

    Yes, I can see it coming.

    I still have my old analog modem, and I still control my own network. We hackers will simply retreat to UUCP ("bbs" for the micro-computer generation). With known and trusted peers only.

    About the only thing added will be full crypto on the UUCP links.

    And when they come for that...

    It will go back to physical data exchange.

    Too bad, though. But the level of discourse may become reasonable again, and maybe, just maybe, SPAM will go away. At least on the darknets.

  • Re:Fuck ACTA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Monsuco ( 998964 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @11:00PM (#30976790) Homepage

    And it is pretty obvious to anyone with a brain that We, The People no longer have any say in the government at all (taxation without representation) thanks to bribery being legal and corporations being labeled "really rich people" by the courts

    The courts did absolutely nothing to legalize bribery. Quid pro quo exchanges of money for votes are still very much illegal, and unless you have been huffing paint thinner, you'd have no way of interpreting what SCOTUS said this way.

    along with speech equaling money, thus insuring your vote and voice is worthless as any corp can simply come along after the election with a checkbook and take over.

    Regardless of your views on the case, money already was a huge player. It always has been, it will continue to grow, the McCain-Feingold "Campaign Finance Reform Act" did absolutely nothing to reduce the influence of money in politics, as is clearly evident in the fact that we saw some of the most expensive elections in history in the campaigns since it passed. The only thing it really has done is made candidates put those awkward "approve this message" lines in their commercials (which is still in place),encouraged increased use of 3-rd party campaigns (still in place but less relevent), and reduced the competativeness of most elections since it is much more of a pain to criticize opponents (hence its critics have dubbed it the "Incumbency Protection Act"). A politician still must earn your vote and the extreme majority of campaign contributions tend to go to candidates that already favored a viewpoint. Suppose you are a gun company. It is a lot easier to promote a candidate who is already pro-gun than to persuade an anti-gun candidate to join you. All the recent court ruling did was make it so companies can more directly contribute to political speech, rather than indirectly contribute via third parties.

    I predict we will continue to be flooded by H1-Bs and illegals even as our unemployment continues to climb past 20% (the numbers the fed uses is a lie, as they no longer count those whose benefits run out or who have given up for lack of work in their area)

    Actually, the rate of illegal immigration appears to be declining due to the poor economy. I also would doubt legal H1-Bs hold too negative an impact on the US economy. What do you assume those workers do with the money they've earned? Do you think they eat it? They turn around and re-spend it here, creating jobs or they ship it overseas which removes currency from the US, thus reducing inflation. (It isn't the presence of dollar bills in the economy that make it worth money, it is the asset value the economy has, money is just a token to represent that value.) Illegal immigrants cause problems largely because of the high crime rates associated with illegal human trafficking not the taking of jobs. Also, the US unemployment rate as calculated by the department of Labor (not the Fed, they are a semi-independant central bank) is based on a survey of about 60,000 households to estimate a national average. It is currently about 10%. Your claim of it being underrepresented is a myth that derives from the fact that a few state and local governments compile their stats that way.

    while special interests will continue to feed like hogs at the government trough.

    Have you ever read history books? Have you ever heard of the Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall, the leader of the 19th century Democrat political machine of New York City? Have you ever read about the Teapot Dome scandal? The current levels of corruption pale in comparison to these.

    Once the fed can no longer print phoney money and the whole Ponzi scheme collapses we will get to watch as they return to their home countries and leave the corpse of the USA to rot.

    Social Security might be something of a Ponzi scheme, but the rest of the federal government really doesn't come close to the defe

  • Outsourcing is a lie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:07AM (#30978656) Homepage

    "How can you stop outsourcing without severely damaging the competitiveness of american companies?"

    I'm beginning to think that this is a lie.

    We're told over and over again that American companies have to outsource production to other countries in order for them to remain "competitive".

    Okay, fine. But tell me this: How do Honda and Toyota and Kia and Hyundai BUILD PLANTS HERE IN THE US???

    Are they not competitive? If FOREIGN companies can build plants here and produce products here for sale here AND hire American labor to do so... AND still make a profit...


  • Re:Fuck ACTA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DangerFace ( 1315417 ) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:41AM (#30978812) Journal

    Exactly why do Europeans care that we do not have national healthcare? They care because they see it as the US rejecting their ideals. I see the same people posting that they will be happy when the US collapses and it's people talk about how we should all have national healthcare.

    Nothing these people say make me think that they give a damn about us.

    Seriously? I don't like people dying. I really don't like people dying of easily preventable causes. I hate people dying in hospitals of easily preventable causes because they aren't millionaires. I couldn't care less about what you want to do with your life, if you're doing ok, but if you use "I'm alright" as an answer to "Why are you letting all these people die?" then you are morally reprehensible. If you are just happy to have people die through lack of money in the richest country in the world when much poorer countries do much better, then that's fine.

    The New Scientist had a brilliant graph plotting expected lifespan against annual government spending on healthcare. Guess who spent the most? The US. Guess who had the shortest lifespan? The US. Guess what the only explanation is? Profits on such an epic scale even European levels of corruption don't achieve them.

    Not all Europeans are like this. In fact, I imagine that the majority of Europe either likes the US or is apathetic to us. But there is a strong and loud anti-US online sentiment that drowns out the rational ones.

    The majority of Europe hates America. Really, really hates America. However, most European people understand that most American people are alright. The basic values of the Founding Fathers are pretty noble and good.


    Your country and its citizens dare to lecture China on human rights when you don't recognise the International Criminal Courts, you hold unnamed suspects with no evidence and no charges against them for unlimited amounts of time with no access to legal representation. You invade sovereign nations in the name of regime change. You defend these invasions with the words freedom and liberty, and yet have no care for the millions dying in far worse regimes throughout Africa and Asia. You announce wars on abstract ideas like 'terror' or 'drugs' - unwinnable wars that nevertheless get people whipped up into a nationalistic frenzy.

    You know what the worst part is, though? The reason people throughout Europe really, really hate the US? Our governments copy you like fscking monkeys, spending more in order to get less, joining in with your pointless wars in far off lands - at least you have companies that profit from rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan. Our school systems get more and more like yours, even though our schools have always turned out smarter kids. Nationalised public services start being seen as some left-wing ideal, rather than centrist and part-of-the-basic-ideals-of-the-free-market.

    The truth is that the venting you get on the interwebs is actually pretty mild compared with the venting you get at dinner parties, in pubs - basically wherever there aren't Americans, because you bastards are all so fscking nice.

    Have a nice day.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!