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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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RE: Enough is enough
By Zshazz on 2/25/2010 10:07:39 PM , Rating: 5
I find myself helplessly having to agree with your logic. However, if I may, I find that your polarization of morality to simplify the issue too much. For instance, how would it be equally immoral to steal an apple because you're starving versus brutally torturing someone to death over the course of several weeks. Both are morally wrong (subjectivity might come in to play here, of course) but they certainly are different "degrees" of wrong. The first might be difficult to classify as "wrong" as you can't exactly realistically expect someone to choose to die by starvation.

Of course, the discussion of ethics and morality is intrinsically subjective in nature; it varies from person to person and country to country. Darn you, moral relativism! And regardless, the point that the government is a monopoly which provides services you cannot choose (and, therefore, cares nothing about your satisfaction of those services) stands strong.

I would be interested if an intelligent and coherent argument could be made against you. So far, I'm very unimpressed by everyone's attempt to rebut your points.


RE: Enough is enough
By wompirebat on 2/25/2010 10:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
I agree entirely that there is a 'range' of morality. But I would argue that it's directly proportional to the situation.
Yes, the theft of a single apple for sustenance of life is technically immoral, but the reaction to it should be relatively equal in morality. An initiation of force is never 'right' but reactions to it should be weighed based on the imposition of the aggressive act. I could not argue that killing the lone-apple thief is a 'fair' treatment. But the owner of the apple would certainly have legitimate claim to any future possessions of the thief until full reparations can be made, up to lethal retaliation.
While I don't personally think that would be fair, as far as my own sensibilities are concerned, I cannot, however, argue that the owner of the apple does not have the immediate right to defend his property with lethal force. If caught in the act, morally speaking, the owner has the ultimate right on how he protects his property.
If in absolute terms a man must concede a portion of his property, there remains no grounds for the defense of the rest of his property. And since our ultimate posession is our self, he would lose the moral means of self-defense.
Also, the objective monetary value is not the only value a man has to defend. Psychic value is just as important, if not more so. The market value of a purebred dog may reach into the thousands, but an adopted mutt may have greater psychic value to the owner than all the purebreds in the world. So in defense of his property, the owner is also defending the psychic value of the idea of his security.
Lastly, I would posit that if based on the individual, a cosistant and universal code of morality is quite possible. Yielding not in the slightest to relativism.


RE: Enough is enough
By porkpie on 2/25/2010 10:51:51 PM , Rating: 3
"I would be interested if an intelligent and coherent argument could be made against you"

The most effective rebuttal was made by he himself...when he labelled Somalia and Ivory Coast as "the only free nations" in the world.

Who here would choose to live in one of those lawless, anarchistic hellholes? Not even the OP himself would...which is why he's posting from a nation made safe and comfortable by the government he so despises.

We even have a term for that condition:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocrisy


RE: Enough is enough
By wompirebat on 2/25/2010 11:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
I think my use of these countries has been taken a little too far out of context, so I will clarify my intent. I was merely trying to point out that in the world today there exists only a few locations that are free of the impositions of government. In no way was I submitting these particular place as examples of functional anarchy. They are simply coincidentally anarchic.
If you have the time later, you could read further clarification on points related to these African countries in my previous replies in this section.
In no way was I advocating the adoption of overall conditions represented in the Ivory Coast. I tried to explain that the reasons for widespread unrest cannot be honestly attributed to the absence of government under current conditions, but rather to too much government under previous conditions. A more thorough treatment of the cause of their specific problems can be found here http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj18n1/cj18n1-2.p...
a quote from the CIA's own factbook
quote:
"Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia's service sector has managed to survive and grow. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $500 million and $1 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security."

The realities of these countries, while not on par with standards in the US, aren't nearly as bad as CNN or BBC make them out to be.
Again, I'm not advocating either of these places as models for anarchy utopia, merely pointing out progress is possible in absence of government. (and in spite of massive damage caused by government)


RE: Enough is enough
By porkpie on 2/26/2010 12:17:16 AM , Rating: 2
"The realities of these countries, while not on par with standards in the US, aren't nearly as bad as CNN or BBC make them out to be."

Per capita GDP of Somalia: $600/year, #189 out of 193 nations. It has a murder and violent crime rate 6 times higher than the US, and 8 times higher than Europe. Slavery has made a return in some areas. The average life expectancy is less than 50 years. The ongoing civil war alone has killed as much as 5% of the total population.

Sounds like a wonderful place to live. When are you emigrating there?


RE: Enough is enough
By Zshazz on 2/26/2010 12:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm... I'm noticing an interesting pattern developing...

You Said:
Who here would choose to live in one of those lawless, anarchistic hellholes? Not even the OP himself would...

He, in response, said:
In no way was I submitting these particular place as examples of functional anarchy. They are simply coincidentally anarchic. (among many other repetitions with various modification ...)

You responded:
Sounds like a wonderful place to live. When are you emigrating there?

I hope that you can understand why your argument seems so underwhelming.


RE: Enough is enough
By Leper Messiah on 2/26/2010 9:58:28 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are confusing the idea of government and a sovereign nation. A tribal council is a form of government. A mayoral government is still government, even if it is only on the local level.

Getting rid of government entirely is impossible, human beings are social creatures and they will organize themselves into a hierarchical structure no matter what the circumstances are.


RE: Enough is enough
By Zshazz on 2/26/2010 12:53:15 PM , Rating: 2
Great point. I was actually starting to think about this myself this morning. Even in small groups, people tend to give "leadership and power" to a strong individual in the group. Rarely is there a case otherwise.

It seems only natural that this leader may need additional resources to accomplish what s/he thinks is best. Inevitably an anarchy would simple regress to exactly what you describe... and would, inevitably (jeez, my vocabulary is failing me!), demand resources to do things.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein














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