Monday, January 23, 2012

SOPA, PIPA, and now ACTA…

The internet has been alive with talk about SOPA and PIPA in the past few weeks, it took some major action on the part of some pretty heavy hitters to bring these issues to the front of everyone’s mind but now it is there, at least so long as the internet can keep focused (honestly we have already set some records there). This all does fall under the umbrella of net neutrality and I have spoken at length on that subject in the past, even posted about it one other time. I did remain silent on SOPA here because I didn’t feel I could add anything new to the discussion, and I felt it was better to direct people towards more eloquent arguments than I could really generate.

So on  January 18th, 2011 we all got together signed petitions, posted on forums and blogs, contacted our representatives, tweeted, and generally made a lot of noise that this was something we did not really want to see happen. And it worked, politicians listened for the most part and in the process the internet as a community showed the old guard that it was a new world, pat yourselves on the back, but don’t take a break yet.

The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA is still out there, people are talking about it like it just sprouted out of the ether but it has actually been in the works since March of 2010. Wikipedia has a great page on it here and I suggest you take a look at it, I’m not going to get into the details of it here because I am not a legal scholar, nor am I really qualified to dissect and break down international treaties.

The stated goal is “the purpose of establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement” however the treaty includes provisions for boarder searches, searches of personal electronic devices, and a host of other things I take issue with personally and professionally.

The largest issue I have with ACTA though is not what it is trying to do, but is that no one outside those drafting it really know what is going on. All we have is conjecture based leaked documents, and what people who say they are industry experts have to say on them, so not a lot. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have refused to release the contents of the treaty on the grounds that it would cause “damage to the national security”. Again I’m not really qualified to render an opinion on something like this, though it seems to me that an international treaty is not a secret.

So here I am, calling on my readers (all ten of you) to spread the word, call or email your representatives, tweet, post, and generally make noise on the internet and let them know that we deserve the truth, and that we will no more stand for these deals to be made in secret than we will for our basic rights being restricted in the name of protecting intellectual property.

Also check out what the EFF has to say here
and take a look at this
Read letters from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden where in he challenges the constitutionality of ACTA:
Letter 1

Letter 2
Read the Administration’s Response to Wyden’s First Letter here:
There is a suprising amount of information to be found out there on the subject, however I am bothered that the last confirmed full text is from last year, everything that we were concerned about SOPA is in this, and a good deal more, add to that the global scope of this and I feel we have a lot to worry about.

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