ACTA: Maybe it is time to sit up and take notice of globalisation
December 10, 2010 1 Comment
Not in the way the left so often claim to, but still, there are questions of a genuine global corporatist stitch-up that should concern us all.
That any topic should come as a surprise to me, being reasonably well read, in terms of keeping abreast of current affairs, is cause in itself for concern.
A clandestine international treaty is currently being negotiated among parties including the United States, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union, Japan, Singapore, and Morocco. It can justly be called the greatest threat of our time to the advancement of human civilization. Considering the magnitude of the other abuses of power pervading the world today, this might seem an exaggeration, but the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) contravenes every principle of civilized society, both in its content and in the nature of the proceedings leading to its creation.
It threatens to undo the accomplishments of the great Internet revolution and to thrust humankind back to a time when individuals had no public voice and no countervailing power against politically privileged mercantilist institutions. ACTA tramples on essential rights that have achieved even mainstream recognition: innocence until one is proven guilty, due process, personal privacy, and fair use of published content. Moreover, because of its designation as a trade agreement, ACTA could be imposed on the people of the United States by the president, without even a vote of Congress.
So far, so alarmist, huh?
Some excellent background information on ACTA can be found in posts by Stephan Kinsella (here and here) and Justin Ptak (here), as well as in a detailed communiqué from the American University Washington College of Law. The first official draft text of ACTA was released only as late as April 20, 2010, even though the treaty has been negotiated since 2006. A subsequent draft text was leaked on July 1, 2010. An earlier discussion draft was made available on WikiLeaks on May 22, 2008. Indeed, the extreme secrecy in which the ACTA negotiations have been shrouded should itself lead to the strongest doubts regarding the merits and desirability of its framers’ intentions.
Learn how not only will all free-content providers end up on the wrong side of the law, but how powers will be introduced enabling, and perhaps obligating at the request of a corporation or trade body, border forces to inspect the personal property of travellers for ‘contraband’ or ‘pirated’ copyright material. That means, potentially, having to account for the contents of your pen drive, you laptop, your phone and your iPod.
The EU protests that it isn’t so.
But do you think it won’t happen?
As Stolyarov reminds us:
It is immaterial whether or not the intent is to target massive commercial cross-border "pirating" operations: where the authority to engage in a certain act against ordinary individuals exists, it will be invoked somewhere, sometime, by somebody.
Yes they will. Oh yes the will. The thin end of the wedge isn’t always a fallacy or rhetorical diversion.
In any case, US border agencies already have all these powers – unsurprisingly, what with the all powerful, protectionist dinosaurs, RIAA and MPAA being US organisations. This makes it all the more likely that the US based WTO and UN will support throwing this global, totalitarian, cultural faraday cage over us all, and the EU will sign up with alacrity.
I plan to do more reading on this, but on first inspection, it seems like a nightmare waiting to be unleashed on us.