On walkabout in life and technology

Understanding ACTA

Lets see if I understand ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement:

THEM: It’s purpose is to create a legal standard for global intellectual property rights enforcement.
US: Sounds good, it’s all so confusing, consistency may be nice.

THEM: The WTO already has 153 countries signed up to TRIPS which is a legal standard for global intellectual property rights enforcement, ACTA overrides it.
US: Mmmbokaaay, do we need a new deal then?

THEM: It was negotiated by a small group of countries, excluding most countries, governments, trade organizations and any public forums.
US: Negotiated? Excluding most players? Not good.

THEM: It overrides other countries laws and legal systems, forcing them to follow ACTA or lose safe harbor trade protections.
US: Can they do that? Seems they can!

THEM: It was done in secret, even to the point that talking about ACTA was a secret.
US: This is not Fight Club! A secret law. That affects us. WTF?

THEM: We only know about it because if Wikileaks.
US: Phew.

THEM: It has been signed by the USA.
US: Wish we had been consulted first, this is a democracy you know.

THEM: The USA has banned the release of this agreement under National Security laws, which means us poor citizens are subject to laws that we cannot find out about. All Freedom of Information Act requests for this document have been denied.
US: Triple WTF? In what alternate universe does a ripped CD or a fake Gucci bag affect National Security?

THEM: It enables countries to search personal baggage, personal computers, iPods and phones without cause for infringing materials, and to then punish people via fines or confiscation without recourse.
US: What about privacy, human rights, international law, freedom? Could it get any worse!

THEM: It requires countries to share all information related to searches and seizures on private citizens.
US: It just got worse!

THEM: ACTA does not require probable cause to perform a search.
US: What? No rights! Nooooo!

THEM: ACTA does not define what an infringing item is.
US: No definitions! So anything could be claimed as infringing, by anyone, anytime? Great, I hereby claim all iPads to be infringing. Oh, and chocolate too, it may be a fake Cadbury’s.

THEM: ACTA does not explain how border guards are supposed to know the difference between legal and infringing goods.
US: No way! They have to guess? That’s an ugly handbag, lets fine her!

THEM: ACTA does not provide any protection that the search will be restricted to infringing items (they can read your communications under ACTA which is currently and patently illegal under tons of international and national laws, then prosecute you on what they find).
US: That’s bat-shit crazy! It even overrides the USA’s 5th amendment rights? And the USA Government signed it!

THEM: ACTA allows these searches to be performed at the ISP level as well, not just at borders, so it’s global SOPA.
US: Beyond insane! So Slovenia can search my ISP in New York and fine me because they need the cash?

THEM: ACTA offers no due process for notification, charge, or response.
US: Oh, add icing on this shitcake!

From 16–18 June 2010, a conference was held at the Washington College of Law, attended by "over 90 academics, practitioners and public interest organizations from six continents". Their conclusions were published on 23 June 2010 on the American University Washington College of Law website. They found "that the terms of the publicly released draft of ACTA threaten numerous public interests, including every concern specifically disclaimed by negotiators." A group of 75+ law professors has signed a letter to President Obama demanding a host of changes to the agreement. The letter alleges that no meaningful transparency has been in evidence.

We stopped SOPA and PIPA, but it may be too late to stop ACTA.