More on ACTA

January 31, 2012

I got this from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about ACTA.  It is an informative and useful read.

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January 27, 2012 | By Maira Sutton and Parker Higgins

We Have Every Right to Be Furious About ACTA

If there’s one thing that encapsulates what’s wrong with the way government functions today, ACTA is it. You wouldn’t know it from the name, but the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a plurilateral agreement designed to broaden and extend existing intellectual property (IP) enforcement laws to the Internet. While it was only negotiated between a few countries,1 it has global consequences. First because it will create new rules for the Internet, and second, because its standards will be applied to other countries through the U.S.’s annual Special 301 process. Negotiated in secret, ACTA bypassed checks and balances of existing international IP norm-setting bodies, without any meaningful input from national parliaments, policymakers, or their citizens. Worse still, the agreement creates a new global institution, an “ACTA Committee” to oversee its implementation and interpretation that will be made up of unelected members with no legal obligation to be transparent in their proceedings. Both in substance and in process, ACTA embodies an outdated top-down, arbitrary approach to government that is out of step with modern notions of participatory democracy.

The EU and 22 of its 27 member states signed ACTA yesterday in Tokyo. This news is neither momentous nor surprising. This is but the latest step in more than three years of non-transparent negotiations. In December, the Council of the European Union—one of the European Union’s two legislative bodies, composed of executives from the 27 EU member states—adopted ACTA during a completely unrelated meeting on agriculture and fisheries. Of course, this is not the end of the story in the EU. For ACTA to be adopted as EU law, the European Parliament has to vote on whether to accept or reject it.

In the U.S., there are growing concerns about the constitutionality of negotiating ACTA as a “sole executive agreement”.  This is not just a semantic argument. If ACTA were categorized as a treaty, it would have to be ratified by the Senate. But the USTR and the Administration have consistently maintained that ACTA is a sole executive agreement negotiated under the President’s power. On that theory, it does not need Congressional approval and thus ACTA already became binding on the US government when Ambassador Ron Kirk signed it last October.

But leading US Constitutional Scholars disagree. Professors Jack Goldsmith and Larry Lessig, questioned the Constitutionality of the executive agreement classification in 2010:

The president has no independent constitutional authority over intellectual property or communications policy, and there is no long historical practice of making sole executive agreements in this area. To the contrary, the Constitution gives primary authority over these matters to Congress, which is charged with making laws that regulate foreign commerce and intellectual property.2

(And by the way, we agree [pdf].)

Senator Ron Wyden has been asking these questions for years, first demanding an explanation from USTR ambassador Ron Kirk, President Obama, and now the administration’s top international law expert Harold Koh. The distinction between executive agreement and treaty should not be lost on this administration: as a Senator, Vice President Joe Biden used the same argument to require the Bush administration to seek Senate approval for an arms reduction agreement.

Public interest groups and informed politicians have long lamented these problems with ACTA. But the impact of dubious backroom law-drafting is getting fresh attention in light of the powerful global opposition movement that has emerged out of last week’s Internet blackout protests. Activists and netizens all around the world have woken up to the dangers of overbroad enforcement law proposals drafted by monopoly industry lobbyists, and rushed into law through strategic lobbying by the same corporate interests that backed SOPA and PIPA. Tens of thousands are protesting in the streets in Poland as their ambassador signed the agreement in Tokyo. The EU Parliament’s website and others have come under attack for their involvement in these laws. The Member of the European Parliament who was appointed to be the rapporteur for ACTA in the European Parliament, Kader Arif, quit yesterday in protest. In a statement he said:

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…

…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 will not take part in this masquerade.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. ACTA may have been signed by public officials, but it’s crystal clear that they are not representing the public interest.

It is now up to the collective will of the public to decide what to do next, and for individuals to ask themselves what they want their government to look like. Do you believe in democracy? Do you believe that laws should be made to reflect our collective best interests, formulated through an open transparent process? One that allows everyone, from experts to civil society members, to analyze, question and probe an agreement that will lead to laws that will impact potentially billions of lives? If we don’t do anything now, this agreement is going to crawl itself into power. With the future at stake like this, it’s never too late to fight.


If you live in Europe, follow these links to learn how you can take immediate action and stay informed on the latest updates:

La Quadrature du Net (@laquadrature): How to Act Against ACTA

European Digital Rights (@EDRi_org): Stop ACTA!

Open Rights Group (@OpenRightsGroup): ACTA: signed, not yet sealed – now it’s up to us

Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (@FFII): ACTA Blog

For those in the U.S., you can demonstrate your opposition to the dubious decision to negotiate ACTA as a sole executive agreement to bypass proper congressional review by signing this petition on the website, demanding the Administration submit ACTA to the Senate for approval.

EFF will continue to monitor ACTA’s global implementation and watch for efforts to use ACTA to broaden US enforcement powers.


January 31, 2012

A reader asked me for information on petitions to sign to stop the TSA.  It is a good question.  So, here are some petition sites to sign to stop the out of control TSA.

Here is a site to protest TSA abuses.

First SOPA and now ACTA

January 29, 2012

We have just finished defeating SOPA and PIPA and now we have ACTA.  It seems that the forces of darkness are relentless.  The protest petition is below.  Please sign it.

Here are other petitions by GoPetition.  Please sign as many as you can.

Here is the O´Dwyer anti extradition petition.

Here are some videos on ACTA and how they want to shut down freedom, creativity and competition.  There is a creeping sense of fascism looming on the horizon.  All of this is just so that a small group of privelidged moneyed interests can monopolize our society and create a feudalistic rentier society.  The 1% against the 99%.

Copyright is out of control and has become a kind of mafia.  I have seen how it has been abused in Spain.  Hairdressers have to pay a monthly extorsion fee just to play the radio in their salons.

Obama, who won the Noble Peace Prize for promoting war,  tearing up the Bill of Rights, signing the Patriot Act, of course supports the criminal ACTA.  How is all of that hope and change working out for you?

This from NaturalNews also: printable article

Originally published January 29 2012

ACTA is worse than SOPA, here’s what you need to know

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) As a warrior for Internet freedom, you helped defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA by supporting Web black outs by sites like Wikipedia and by contacting your lawmaker to voice your displeasure. So loud was your voice that even the president of the United States sided with you in opposing it.

But don’t take a deep sigh of relief because, after all, we’re talking about a merger of Washington, D.C., and Hollywood here, as well as global interests. After the motion picture industry, its subsidiaries and all “interested parties” have spent nearly $150 million lobbying for some sort of Internet-centric “anti-piracy” bill, you should have known the powers that be would return.

And they have, only this time they are pushing something far more onerous: ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

“Although the proposed treaty’s title might suggest that the agreement deals only with counterfeit physical goods (such as medicines) what little information has been made available publicly by negotiating governments about the content of the treaty makes it clear that it will have a far broader scope and in particular will deal with new tools targeting ‘Internet distribution and information technology'”, says an assessment of ACTA by the watchdogs at the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

“ACTA has several features that raise significant potential concerns for consumers’ privacy and civil liberties for innovation and the free flow of information on the Internet [regarding] legitimate commerce and for developing countries’ ability to choose policy options that best suit their domestic priorities and level of economic development,” says EFF’s assessment.

As is usually the case with dubious, rights-stripping legislation, ACTA – which reports was signed by the U.S. in 2011 and has already been sanctioned as well by Japan, Switzerland and many European Union nations – has largely been negotiated in the shadows and, thus, has largely been devoid of scrutiny… until now.

While the Obama administration was shying away from SOPA, it has been aggressively pursuing ACTA (full disclosure: the process was started under the Bush administration). Critics say it is much more far-reaching than SOPA, bypassing “the sovereign laws of participating nations” and “forcing ISP’s across the globe to act as internet police,” Forbes said.

But ACTA isn’t limited just to the Internet. In fact, the agreement would crack down things like generic drugs and would make food patents more difficult to obtain “by enforcing a global standard on seed patents that threatens local farmers and food independence across the developed world,” Forbes says.

The good thing is, there is not universal acceptance of ACTA and its onerous, liberty-stealing provisions. Emerging nations like Brazil and India are adamantly opposed to it for rightfully fearing its provisions would harm their economies.

But Internet freedom is also under attack from other quarters as well. The EFF also notes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which is a separate measure, would “rewrite the global rules on IP enforcement”.

“All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement,” said the EFF assessment. “In the U.S. this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law. The recently leaked U.S. IP chapter also includes provisions that appear to go beyond current U.S. law. This raises significant concerns for citizens’ due process, privacy and freedom of expression rights.”

SOPA may be history but that doesn’t mean Internet freedom does not remain under assault. Tyrants never stop trying to enforce tyranny.

Sources for this article include:

Why the Bees are Dying

January 28, 2012

This is an interesting video exposing how government approved toxins are contributing to the die off of bees.

New petitions to keep up the pressure to keep the Internet free

January 28, 2012

Here are some web sites where you can sign petitions to keep the internet free.  Please participate. talks about a new European threat to the internet.

We need to let our leaders know that we have the right to do what we want with our own devices.


Interestng video exploring the different types of libertarianism

January 27, 2012

This video helps to explain the different types of LIbertariansm. 

I am not a true Libertarian, but I have a lot of sympathy for them because they are the only ones warning us about an out of control deficit, as well as endless growth in government waste and abuse.  I also like the message of personal responsiblity generally.  I am actually not against government per se, but simply because government tends to become an endless source of waste and abuse, and that is not good for society.

Now for Some SOPA humor

January 27, 2012

I found this Hitler parody to be quite funny, but beyond the comedy there are many very relevant points, the main one being that legislation like SOPA and PIPA is simply a way that the old guard can avoid having to actually compete.  Traditional media hates the internet which removes their pre-internet ability to rig and cartelize a captive market.  Now they have to actually compete, they are losing, and they hate it.  The solution for the old media is simply to turn the internet into something that they can monopolize and “manage” so as to shut out the competition.  Just bribe enough politicians and things like SOPA pop up.

I think that we should all congratulate ourselves for having SOPA and PIPA shut down.  It has been thru our activism that we have been able to say “NO”!  Still, we must continue to be vigilant and active because the dark side will work tirelessly to censor the internet.  It is time for some real democracy in action.