ACTA remix: What is the Trans Pacific Partnership ?
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 23, 2012
I’ve fought against ACTA for a long time in this very blog.
Often it seemed futile, as much as anything because no one outside a very small group of people even knew it was happening.
The secrecy was such that Canada’s elected representatives — our Members of Parliament — were not allowed to know anything about what was being negotiated. It was most certainly a very secret treaty. An indication of how abysmal ACTA was is that even under the threat of draconian penalties, the various drafts were too scary not to leak — all the way through the process.
With source material in hand, legal scholars like Michael Geist were able to study various ACTA drafts, and explain the legal language online so that people could understand the ramifications of this treaty that would change our lives. Concerned citizens formed organizations like the excellent La Quadrature du Net which served as a European clearing house for ACTA news. There was an Identica group where I learned about the latest ACTA news and I posted whatever I found there. Like many other ordinary people, I talked to people in my real life as well as sharing ACTA drafts and information on websites and blogs.
And so, over time, many of the worst bits were cut out of ACTA in the face of the negative opinion and outcry. Even so, after the last negotiation, there remained a few irreconcilable differences, and so it went unsigned.
Reasonable people might expect that to have been the end of it, but some months later, after what had to be a good deal of truly secret negotiations, some countries — including Canada — quietly signed the ACTA agreement. But it wasn’t over yet, it still required Europe.
Fortunately for the rest of the world, the European Union did not follow suit. Unlike North America — where most politicians had been kept entirely in the dark with the secrecy provisions in the heavy duty non-disclosure agreement — some EU politicans had been paying attention to ACTA, and enough awareness had been raised to generate an amazing outcry led by Poland.
“A demonstration was to be held there against a secret attempt to sign the ‘ACTA treaty’ by the Polish government, ostensibly to prevent piracy on the web, but in reality, to enable the introduction of the kind of censorship we had in the communist era, and now have in China, (the reading of private e-mails, the tracking of correspondence, the registration of visited web pages visited and network surveillance). Whilst these earlier forms of censorship were designed to perpetuate Communist ideology, those that ACTA would impose have been designed in the U.S. to allow the gradual takeover of states and governments by global corporations.”
— Paweł Łyszczyk, Szczecinian: Opinion: ‘Szczecin says ‘No’ to ACTA’
And amazingly, all the information sharing and Anti-Acta hullabaloo ultimately led the European Union to decline ACTA. Again, this should have been the end of the story, except that the special interests behind these oppressive laws are not about to give up so easily.
What makes the onslaught even worse is that many people are complacent, believing that ACTA—like the US SOPA— has been defeated.
The Ghost of ACTA?
When I said that on Identi.ca the other day I was surprised to be challenged by a Twitter user called @ACTAwebcare:
Although I knew it was true, @ACTAwebcare may well have gone to Twitter with a complaint against me to get the Tweet removed. Since I always feel the best way to counter misinformation is with the truth, I responded with some back-up links, quoting reputable sources like:
But the best was this line by line comparison of ACTA and TPP language done by infojustice.org TPP vs. ACTA – Line by Line
Setting up a Twitter account in an attempt to rehabilitate ACTA (and spread misinformation about it) is quite telling. Although ACTA may be officially gone, it is anything but forgotten. And we need to understand and fight the dangers of its new incarnations.
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has created the following Infographic to explain just what is wrong with the TPP. It’s from an American perspective, but the consequences will be just as dire for the rest of the world. Canada is clamoring to jump on this bandwagon, so we Canadians can write letters to our MPs too.