by J.D. Heyes
January 29, 2012
Even though SOPA has been temporarily
a far worse freedom-crushing law now
threatens the internet: ACTA.
It's just the latest attempt by corrupt governments to sell out our
freedom to the entertainment industry's profits. Read why ACTA may
more dangerous than SOPA or PIPA
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
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
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 (EFF).
"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
As is usually the case with dubious,
rights-stripping legislation, ACTA - which Forbes.com reports was signed by
the U.S. in 2011 and has already been sanctioned as well by,
...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,
"the sovereign laws of participating
nations" and "forcing ISP's across the globe to act as internet police,"
But ACTA isn't limited just to the Internet.
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.
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
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.