Few Nations Support U.S. Decision to Keep Piracy Pact Secret
February 25, 2010 2:19 PM
The U.S. has fought to keep the ACTA treaty secret. The treaty allows monitoring of citzens online and warrantless search and seizures at border crossing, of electronics suspected to be carrying infringed content.
The U.S. Government insisted that the terms of its privacy and rights-trampling treaty were too sensitive to expose to the public
ACTA, short for the
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
, is an all-reaching proposal that may represent an epic victory for the film and music industries in their fight against piracy, a victory that comes at the high expense of citizens' privacy and rights, if it is upheld.
Championed by both former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama, the proposal is the child of countless millions in international lobbying money from the media industry. It aims to enact constant monitoring of citizens' online activities -- even perfectly legitimate ones -- and grants border agents in the U.S. and many member states the power of warrantless search and seizures -- provisions that would grant them the power to
destroy U.S. citizens' laptops, iPods, or CDs
, if the agents suspected that they might contain infringed content. And the best part? The cost of the bill will be footed by the taxpayers themselves -- without even giving them a clue as to what's happening.
With its Big Brotheresque terms, it's little wonder that the U.S. wanted to keep the agreement under wraps. What was unknown until now, though, was just how few nations support the U.S. in keeping the agreement secret, or the fact that the Obama and Bush administration negotiators overpowered other major nations to keep the treaty out of the public eye.
Officials in the Netherlands, a nation pushing for the treaty to be
exposed to the public
, "accidentally" leaked (
Google English translation
) a memo from a secret ACTA negotiation meeting in Mexico, which detailed who supported keeping the treaty secret from citizens of member nations.
Only a handful of European nations -- Belgium, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark -- and two other nations -- South Korea and Singapore -- supported keeping the treaty a secret. Denmark was reportedly the most vocal supporter of secrecy.
The majority of the other participating nations -- the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, and Austria, the UK, and Japan supported releasing details to the public. The UK and Japan, two of the world's biggest powers, reportedly were particularly vocal about transparency. Other nations, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, were not listed in the memo, but have been advocates of transparency.
Despite the vast majority supporting openness, the U.S. fought to silence these voices. With the help of the handful of nations supporting secrecy, it successfully prevented the ACTA terms from being aired to the public, even as the U.S. government considers warrantless border searches for "pirate materials".
Of course, a vast body of information regarding ACTA
made it to the public eye anyways
, thanks to the internet and leaks sites like
The treaty and the recent information on how the U.S. fought to keep it secret raises alarming questions about politicians at the highest level on both sides of the political aisle. Why would our nation's leaders plot and champion a treaty that would raise citizens' taxes in order to violate their constitutional rights, as a favor for major corporations? And more importantly, why would these leaders fight to keep the treaty secret, when transparency and public participation form the foundation of our nation?
It's all to protect you -- even if you don't know about it. At least that's what your
elected officials say
"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot
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