ACTA: the legislation that makes SOPA and PIPA look reasonable
By End the Lie
That’s right, with little to no fanfare or coverage in the controlled establishment media, an “agreement” (which is much closer to a treaty than anything else) was signed which undermines everything that the internet was built upon while putting countless other sectors of life in danger.
As I very briefly outlined in an article complimenting a video released in 2010 warning of what ACTA had in store, this also puts farmers worldwide at risk of being unfairly targeted by Monsanto.
It is worth noting that the leader of the United Kingdom’s Pirate Party rightly pointed out in a press release today that “ACTA is an international treaty, disguised as a trade agreement,” adding, “ACTA is, if anything, even more objectionable [than SOPA and PIPA].”
Apparently it is not only internet denizens which are astounded by the fact that ACTA was discussed in secret and passed with no input from the people in several powerful nations.
Indeed, in an act of protest and solidarity with the anti-ACTA community, Polish legislators donned paper Guy Fawkes masks in the Polish Parliament and even more importantly, the European Union’s rapporteur for ACTA resigned in disgust.
Kader Arif, the rapporteur in question, was apparently appalled by the way in which the EU is being pressured into signing onto ACTA.
Arif was even brave enough to go as far as saying that he “will not take part in this masquerade.”
He rightly highlights that, “This agreement might have major consequences on citizens’ lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation.”
I believe that everyone the world over, but especially those in the EU, should applaud Arif for standing up for the real democratic process and not the cheap imitation that is has swept the Western world.
Arif continues, “I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament’s demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.”
He said that the efforts he witnessed are unprecedented and designed to rush the signing through before the public could be alerted to the dangers of the agreement.
Arif stated that this not only deprived the European Parliament of its right to have input on the signing but also stripped them “of the tools at [the Parliament's] disposal to convey citizens’ legitimate demands.”
Unfortunately, here in the United States, the agreement was signed with no input from the people or our so-called representatives whatsoever.
Obama accomplished this by making an end-run around the constitution by claiming that since it did not modify US law, it need not be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the US Senate.
Furthermore, the Obama administration claims that it is not, in fact, a binding treaty and thus falls under Obama’s executive privilege.
This is patently absurd and representative of the contempt for the opinion of Americans held by the Obama administration, our so-called representatives, and those who dictate policy to these public figures.
“Everyone knows the ACTA agreement is problematic, whether it is its impact on civil liberties, the way it makes Internet access providers [more commonly referred to as internet service providers in the United States, also known as ISPs] liable, its consequences on generic drugs manufacturing, or how little protection it gives to our geographical indications,” Arif said.
He brings up what I think are some of the most important points in this short paragraph, especially the issue of civil liberties and how it connects to the responsibility being placed on the shoulders of ISPs.
These two parts of ACTA are intimately connected because what ISPs would have to do to protect themselves would be an egregious breach of our civil liberties.
In order for ISPs to protect themselves from being targeted under ACTA, they would have to constantly monitor all communications on their networks along with all data stored on their servers.
With all of the Big Brother technology being foisted upon us by what is supposed to be our government and countless large corporations, this seems like the perfect excuse to even further ratchet up the American surveillance state which is quickly going global with the help of companies like Google.
This would require something called “deep packet inspection” which means that they would analyze (and likely record and store for liability purposes) the content of every single e-mail, instant message, along with any other communication in order to make sure that it does not breach ACTA in some way.
Using this level of filtering they could easily track every single website you visit, what you do on the website and how you interact with it, and more, all of which can be stored and handed over to private entities or the government with little to no oversight.
This would similarly imply that companies like Dropbox which remotely store files (a service which I use myself in my writing) would have to inspect all of the files on their servers to make sure that none of them are infringing content.
One aspect of ACTA which makes it far worse than SOPA or PIPA is the fact that it is international in scale.
A corporation half way across the world could come after End the Lie for using their logo as an image associated with an article or even – as insane as this sounds – linking to infringing content.
That’s right, I could get shut down and/or fined for doing nothing other than linking to a site which allegedly has content which is protected under someone’s copyright as could anyone else unfortunate enough to get caught in the sights of someone leveraging the powers under ACTA.
There is also the real danger that this could be used in a targeted manner to stifle dissent.
Say, for instance, a site like mine or any of the other thousands of alternative news websites out there which cite the copyrighted works of others either in whole under Fair Use or excerpted (which is what I do in using quotes from other writers or publications in my work) could be taken down entirely if the copyright holder found a bit of copyrighted material.
I seriously doubt major establishment news organizations would ever come under fire for doing such a thing, although independent organizations very well might because they cover much more controversial (and meaningful) material, tend to make some people very unhappy and most importantly do not have the massive infrastructure required to fight such an attack.
I find it quite troubling that this has already been signed by the United States along with the European Union without any meaningful debate or input from those who are affected by the legislation.
Keep in mind this is coming from someone who is not a pirate and someone who does not make money off of hijacking the hard work of others.
I fall into the category of content creator, the exact segment of the population this type of agreement is intended to benefit.
However, I would never put my intellectual property over the right to privacy, truly just law, the system of checks and balances (which is laughable at this point) and the concept of sovereignty.
Furthermore, I think it is quite clear to my readers by now that I am much more interested in raising awareness, working towards solutions and hopefully (slowly) making the world a better place than keeping my writings “exclusive” or “protected.”
This is precisely why I encourage anyone and everyone to post my articles wherever they please, with the only request that you keep my name attached to the article with a link back to the original or to my homepage.
Why? Well, since I am quite far from making any significant income from my work at this point (something which I obviously hope will change soon) I’d like to at least get the satisfaction of knowing that people recognize who created the works that they are reading.
I don’t think that is too much to ask, especially given that larger news agencies which create what I find to be much lower quality content, actually charge people to copy their work.
In no way does it seem reasonable to me to allow ISPs to invade our privacy, put farmers who feed the world in danger of being shut down by ludicrously greedy corporations like Monsanto, or to allow the circumvention of everything that an open society is supposed to be in the name of protecting copyrights.
Unfortunately, since the United States has already signed on to this atrocious agreement, I’m not sure of what exactly we can do to fight it.
One idea that comes to mind is pressuring our so-called representatives into taking Obama to task for not taking this to the Senate to be ratified.
Another would be to step up vocal boycotts against supporters of ACTA in order to show them that we will not allow them to destroy everything that is the internet as we have come to know it.
There are already massive protests being held around the world in opposition to ACTA but since the US has already signed on, it seems our options are a bit more limited.
If you have any suggestions as far as solutions go, please e-mail me immediately at [email protected] with your ideas.
I will be devoting part of the second episode of End the Lie Radio to this issue, so keep in mind that your input will be helping me put forth more solutions to the show’s audience in order to actually bring about some change.
ACTA is truly dangerous and the international community needs to stand up and push back against the corporate kleptocrats that seek to eradicate what few freedoms we have left.