A few weeks ago, the entire draft of the ACTA leaked with some scary proposals that would severely limit individual privacy, consumer rights, and online freedom.
The U.S. Trade Representative, who has been pushing for the ACTA’s secrecy all this time, has promised that the trade agreement will do nothing to change U.S. law. But this is a blatant lie. Trade agreements like WIPO and TRIPPS were used in the past to bypass public debate since the receive less attention that actual legislation. Once these trade agreements are passed, lobbyists claim each country must change its laws in order to comply with their international obligations. ACTA is even more creative by calling it an executive agreement. And now that the entire draft has been leaked, the USTR says its willing to release it.
I’ve gone over a bit of the ACTA, but now the full document verifies many of the fears I and others have had about the agreement. The draft includes proposals for borders searches of iPods (without probable cause), secondary liability for infringement without safe harbors or exceptions, making Google and eBay pretty much illegal and even forcing your ISP to be liability for anything its users do online. The ACTA even allows for injunctions to prevent “imminent infringement”. Yes, Minority Report style pre-crime prevention is coming to intellectual property first. Also, there would be no more due process for online anonymity and intellectual property cases get special priority within the court system while also evolving intellectual property crimes from a civil issue to a criminal offence. This means rather than being sued by the effected party, the government becomes a free police service for corporations. The U.S. doesn’t need the ACTA for this. Thanks to the PRO-IP law, our Department of Justice already prioritizes copyright infringement over less important crimes like identity fraud.
Slowly, public officials are noticing the lack of transparency and dangerous provisions in the trade agreement. The E.U. Parliament voted 663-13 against the ACTA, but this hasn’t stopped the negotiations from continuing. President Obama, unfortunately, remains a strong supporter of the ACTA.