Much Ado About A.C.T.A.
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 22, 2010
This past Thursday I scrambled to put together a personal submission to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Although the USTR made it clear that all submissions would be welcome, the Canadian Government chose to stand mute. I’m only a private individual, but I thought it was an important thing to speak out about particularly since Canada, like many other sovereign states around the world, is under a great deal of pressure to participate in the secret A.C.T.A. (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) negotiations.
Should the USTR again unfairly place Canada on their “watch list” politically this could be used to leverage Canada into follow the American A.C.T.A. game plan.
There is a growing awareness of the potential danger from this negotiation among ordinary citizens.
The first warning sign about A.C.T.A. is the level of secrecy demanded by those negotiating it. Although these negotiations have already been underway for a couple of years, anyone privy to the negotiation is required to sign a rigorous non-disclosure agreement that prevents all of the participants from divulging any of the details. This means that there are many elected government representatives in the countries involved who are not privy to the details. Logically, it is also a compelling indication that the terms are not going to meet with the approval of the citizenry. After all, if any of this was in our best interests why would it need to be so secret?
If it was simply an anti-counterfeiting treaty, there probably wouldn’t be any controversy at all. The problem is, although it sounds like counterfeiting is the A.C.T.A. raison d’être, it appears that the driving force is to force the rest of the world to follow the American lead and rewriting our copyright law according to the specifications of the American Corporate Copyright Lobby. The ultimate goal seems to be to force all the countries involved in the negotiation to fall in line.
The Internet has some wonderful things going for it.
Not least of which is the ability to connect with people all over the world and communicate regardless of language.
Although I’m unfortunately a mono-lingual English speaker, I was able to read this inspirational online petition offered by the Mexican internet freedom fighting group OPENACTA.
“Sharing knowledge and information without profit is never smuggling, countefeiting or piracy. ” — OpenActa petition
With the assistance of Google Translation and a dash of common sense, I offer my amateur translation here:
Petición de Transparencia re: #ACTA para el Senado de la República
From 25 to 29 January 2010, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property was the host of the 7th Round of Negotiations of ACTA (Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by its initials in English) at the Fiesta Americans in the city of Guadalajara.
Despite repeated demands by the international community and specifically of Mexican citizens to make public the negotiations and reveal the text of the treaty, so far, the agencies involved in these negotiations have ignored our demands for transparency, information, and openness of debate regarding the ACTA, intellectual property and the right to information of all Mexicans.
Through this petition we demand that the Mexican Senate ask the administrative entities responsible for negotiating the ACTA in our country to publish a detailed report of that meeting as soon as possible.
We also require a public hearing by the administrative representatives of ACTA negotiations with the competent authorities of the Senate, to meet the urgent demand of the public to remove the unfortunate opacity over two years of negotiations of this treaty being negotiated secretly on behalf of all Mexicans.
Finally, on receipt of this request we kindly request that the Senate make its position on the matter and communicate the steps to start a public debate about absolutely the entire contents of the ACTA text proposed, and which is an essential component of citizenship.
Sharing knowledge and information without profit is never smuggling, countefeiting or piracy.
Thanks for your attention.
Citizens of Mexico
Bravo to the Citizens of Mexico and OpenActa.
Possibly because the details of A.C.T.A. are so heinous, but even the rigorous non-disclosure agreement has been unable to prevent leaks.
Cory Doctorow reported the latest on boingboing as well as offering this handy concise breakdown of the A.C.T.A. problem in Internet Evolution: Copyright Undercover: ACTA & the Web
Michael Geist breaks the latest leaked document into understandable bits in ACTA Internet Chapter Leaks: Renegotiates WIPO, Sets 3 Strikes as Model
Finally, word from yet another part of the world New Zealand’s Coffee Geek: Recent ACTA content leaks It seems that the folks in New Zealand are also unhappy at the very thought of A.C.T.A.