Few Nations Support U.S. Decision to Keep Piracy Pact Secret
February 25, 2010 2:19 PM
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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.
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
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RE: Enough is enough
2/26/2010 12:25:13 PM
You asked for a "non-humorous" reply, so I'll offer one.
Your "all or nothing" assessment of Government is decidedly false. Your inability to see any middle ground on the issue is likely not related to your ignorance or lack of intelligence, but rather your stubbornness to agree a middle ground exists simply because it therefore reinforces your own argument.
Government (at least here in the US) is
to be an institution delivered by the "people" to serve the same people. Is there corruption in government? Sure. I don't think any rational person would say otherwise. But the corruption exists for the very same reason that the government is created:
"There are millions of people all over the world are innately greed, power hungry, selfish and evil, and either hate you or want what you have and will stop at nothing to get it."
Simple concept really.
why government first begins... as an institution
the people to assist in protecting the people. Don't stop here though, keep reading, or else you'll miss it entirely.
The problem is, security is a full time job, and people can either be secure, or live their lives. So government gets created to "outsource" security... and when you have a nation as large as ours, government also becomes large. But now you have a public corporation that needs to be run efficiently... so you "hire" people to run it. But hired people need to be paid, and resources aren't free, so you agree to "taxation" so everyone pays their "fair share" of their portion of protection.
The problem? The same type of person you want to protect yourself from exists across the world. Those "evil" forces are not simply external forces. Thus, the institution you create for
reasons now also carry the tools to be easily abused and corrupted by those that are corrupt.
Long explanation? yes. But apparently it was needed.
Here's the short answer: "Evil people exist that can either come take what you want directly, or will try to use government to take it indirectly. Government as an institution is effectively neutral, it's the people in it that need to be carefully vetted. Utopia's don't exist because of sin (something that can't be ignored)."
Because Government is there to serve me, I can say that I can agree to government action... but I can also say that when someone evil is given power, I can disagree with the abuses they begin to take.
We actually have it fairly lucky in the US because we at least get a shot at protecting ourselves from putting the "Evil" into leadership positions. Are we successful? marginally... but at least we have a chance, and that's why our Constitution was setup the way it was... because smart people knew that some would try to take advantage and it needed to be as difficult as possible to do so. That's more than most other countries can say.
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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