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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.  (Source: PuppetGovernment)
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 (DutchGoogle 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 Wikileaks.

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.

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Dig a bit more Jason
By oTAL on 2/25/2010 3:03:08 PM , Rating: 2
I can't even begin to understand how keeping this kind of thing secret could serve the public's interest. Can anyone give me a reason for this (other than corruption)? Honest question... any ideas?

Well, I was ashamed to read that my country was one of the six that wanted to keep this secret. But I take the content of DT articles with some skepticism so I looked it up...

...and it appears Jason's article might have some incorrections (hopefully he won't apply the standard DT practice of correcting mistakes without telling anyone, making us in the comment section look like idiots).

Jason wrote:
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.

At boingboing Myatu translates:
The United Kingdom pressed the EC that it should take a pro-active stance and attempt to convince the other parties that transparency is of the highest importance, which was supported by Finland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Belgium and Portugal".

"There were still some reservations from a few (EU) member states. Belgium, Portugal, Denmark and Germany were not entirely sure about making it fully transparent. It seemed that Germany, Belgium and Portugal could be convinced, but Denmark was quite inflexible about this.


Sounds completely different to me....

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By geddarkstorm on 2/25/2010 3:10:17 PM , Rating: 3
Huh? Doesn't sound different to me, other than the first quote by Boingboing. The second quote contradicts the first. Unless, the truth is that Mick is right, those countries he listed are against /full/ transparency, but somewhat support the UK in that maybe some transparency would be ok; they just aren't completely convinced. And, maybe they could be swayed to the UK's camp. But currently, as the last quote states, they are against full transparency.

Truthfully, I don't see any glaring inaccuracies, just a complex web of political maneuvering that wasn't fully nuanced by Mick.

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By geddarkstorm on 2/25/2010 3:15:19 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, looking at it again, there are /no/ discrepancies except within Boingboing's translation itself. The first quote from Boingboing makes no sense, what so ever in context of the second. It says the UK was pro-active to convince other parties that transparency was good, which was supported by... Denmark? And then the next quote says Denmark was completely inflexible against the idea of any transparency. It can't be both!

That just doesn't make sense. I think something was lost in translation.

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By oTAL on 2/25/2010 3:17:30 PM , Rating: 1
There were reservations on full transparency.

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By geddarkstorm on 2/25/2010 3:19:05 PM , Rating: 3
Which is the same as supporting to keep the treaty a secret :P.

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By Reclaimer77 on 2/25/10, Rating: 0
RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By Brandon Hill on 2/25/2010 3:41:46 PM , Rating: 1
I'm with you man. "These aren't the droids you were looking for" comes to mind now more often than not.

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By Kurz on 2/25/2010 7:51:03 PM , Rating: 1
I wonder if Obama has a Purple Lightsaber.

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By Zshazz on 2/25/2010 9:31:17 PM , Rating: 1
Wonder no more: Just earlier, as Obama was picking his nose, you could clearly see the gleam of his red lightsaber under the table through his eyes.

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By oTAL on 2/25/2010 3:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
A pretty good translation (a lot better than Google's):

RE: Dig a bit more Jason
By Robear on 2/25/2010 11:33:51 PM , Rating: 1
This topic attracts the trolls, I guess.

I'm with you, oTAL. I'd really like to know the rationale behind "it's for your own good." You can justify just about anything with that.

I'd like to know 1) how it benefits Americans to perform search & seizure without proving just cause and 2) how does keeping it a secret benefit us?

How is the american population hurt by this knowledge going public?

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