Melvin Martinez breaks down the dangerously influential global internet censorship treaty ACTA by - Melvin Martinez
Saturday, January 28, 2012
On October 1st, 2011, President Barack Obama signed ACTA into effect. ACTA is not a bill, act, or even law however; it's a treaty. So while countries could, in theory, violate the treaty, it is impossible for someone to be prosecuted for doing the same (violating the law). While ACTA may not necessarily be a threat for those concerned about going to prison, it's still something you should educate yourself about.
"The most controversial measures of concern to Internet users in the final version of the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for most Internet users are:
1) that signing governments pledge to allow copyright holders a way to request, under court warrant, personal information about a suspected infringer from that person's ISP
2) that means will be provided for a rights holder to legally pursue someone suspected of circumventing rights management technologies
3) that goods crossing countries' borders may be made subject to search and seizure if they're suspected to contain infringing material, with exceptions provided for things like personal luggage."
While these measures may appear to be direct violations of human rights, this could be considered a product of the "calm after the storm"; by that I mean that there were worse measures proposed before this, and these are nothing compared to what was previously suggested.
I've read the PDF from Wired.com, which was leaked last November, and is not proven to be necessarily confirmed to be related to the official ACTA treaty, but I can see where someone would find the correlation between the document and the proposal.
"Safe-harbours for liability regarding ISPs, based on Section 512 of the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)2, including a preamble about the balance between the interests of internet service providers (ISPs) and right-holders. See also KORUS Chapter 18.10.30. According to US, the language proposed is somewhere in the "middle" between the WIPO internet treaties, KORUS and the DMCA, which probably means that it is more detailed than the first but not as specific as the latter. ISPs are defined as in Section 512 (k) of DMCA3 On the limitations from 3rd party liability: to benefit from safe-harbours, ISPs need to put in place policies to deter unauthorised storage and transmission of IP infringing content (ex: clauses in customers' contracts allowing, inter alia, a graduated response)"
"Graduated response" is basically a three-strikes rule. As far as "IP infringing content" goes, that's regional as of right now, but with the rise of internet censorship bills, it could become a universal standard for something to be considered "IP infringing".
"From what we understood, the US will not propose that authorities need to create such systems. Instead they require some self-regulation by ISPs. This Section 3 should also contain "broad" provisions regarding notice-and-takedown mechanisms."
This is how the government tries to ease up their proposal a little; make it a bit more digestible, you know? They think that by giving the ISPs a regulation to be self-enforced that it'll make the whole proposal less "threatening". There's no amount of freedom that can compensate for the act of taking away freedom. You can't take the $100 out of my wallet, give me a $5 dollar bill and think that it'd make everything all peachy-keen. You've gotta be out of your gosh-darn mind to think that; and the government is just that, out of their gosh-darn minds!
Among other proposed clauses:
"One such measure would have had governments narrow their provisioning of "safe harbor" for Internet Service Providers only after they implemented certain monitoring tools and/or filters for preventing the distribution of unauthorized material.
An alternative phrasing for the measure that narrowed the definition of safe harbor would have compelled governments to mandate that ISPs must monitor traffic."
"It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered," Sen. Wyden wrote, "without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law. But regardless of whether the agreement requires changes in U.S. law... the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress' authority, absent congressional approval."
Now that's just an excerpt of the letter, but it still gets the point across; Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the constitution states that the President "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur." This contradicts what Obama suggested in his State of the Union Address (which I took the liberty of breaking down most of the key points from a ~8 minute highlight reel for you folks) however, so something's not adding up; his logic.
As of now, ACTA serves as a support group for countries trying to enforce a mandate that would make ISPs track their users' personal data while just repeatedly advising them that their procedures (if they choose to be enforced) must honor "privacy, freedom of expression, and fair process". That's basically what it is, a support group. A dangerously influential support group.
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