SOPA and PIPA have been shelved, and that’s awesome. Everybody who stood against the bills actually made a difference- the legislation crashed and burned, and all of the hopelessly out-of-touch lobbyists with their prehistoric business models retreated to their lairs to lick their wounds. Sounds like everything worked out, right?
The lobbyist groups have just pulled out their latest weapon, a treaty which they hope will legitimize the bogus legislation they’ve already vomited out. Ladies and gentlemen, meet ACTA. If you thought SOPA and PIPA were bad, well…you ain’t seen nothing yet.
What is It?
This has been in the works for a while- since 2006- at least, that’s when Canada received the proposal. Chances are, it’s been in development for much, much longer. We’re not really clear on the specifics- most of the decision making related to this bill has been done behind closed doors, without public knowledge. That’s important, folks. They’ve been legislation laundering behind our backs, without our knowledge– something which is not standard practice, and never has been. It’s like they knew people would protest.
So much for “serving the people,” eh?
ACTA is a treaty that’s essentially designed as a draconian crackdown on the Internet by corporations that should have ceased to exist decades ago. Worse, it’ll cause damage to a lot more than just the Internet, allowing for businesses to block the trade of certain seeds and effectively eliminate generic drugs. Oh, and it’s also related to piracy and counterfeiting.
You know the deal- it’s very similar to SOPA and PIPA- right down to the fact that even its proponents aren’t a hundred percent sure about what the hell it does. What we do know is that:
- It places a focus on “effective enforcement procedures” to prevent infringement, without making any reference to fair, equitable, or proportionate procedure.
- It lumps piracy and counterfeiting into the same camp- when, by definition, they are two very, very different birds.
- It contains strictures that criminalize “the non-profit facilitation of unauthorized information exchange on the internet.” Not data. Information. Curiously, the exact definition of “unauthorized information” isn’t exactly clear. How convenient.
- You can kiss the Safe Harbor laws goodbye- third party liability is a central point of ACTA.
- It allows for- and, in many cases, requires ISPs to go through the private data of their users in order to search for signs of copyright infringement. Internet anonymity? Personal privacy? Sorry, ACTA has no use for that.
- As a caveat to the above point, it essentially allows rights-holders and ISPS to act as a sort of “secret police” against people they feel are guilty of infringement.
- It allows the creation of a committee with the ability to review and accept or reject amendments to the treaty. Democratic process? What’s that?
- Another section of the treaty is designed to prevent purchased music to be played on different devices. Want to rip music from a CD onto iTunes, so you can listen to it on your iPod? You’re a criminal under ACTA.
If those eight points don’t scare the hell out of you, you’re obviously not paying attention. ACTA is a blatant violation of pretty much everything modern society stands for. Freedom of information? Gone. Personal privacy? Gone. Due Process? Gone. Open source projects? Gone. New Media? Gone.
If ACTA is allowed to remain viable, the Internet as we know it will die. It’s not a question of “if,” like it was with SOPA and PIPA. It’s a question of “when.” But hey, it’s just a treaty, right? It’s not actually law- nothing says that any country actually has to participate in it, correct?
Treaty mongering is exactly how the DMCA was passed, in case you were wondering. A bunch of countries got together and signed an agreement, which eventually became common practice, which eventually became a trade standard. Guess what happened to countries that didn’t pass laws to keep with that trade standard?
Essentially, they had unofficial trade sanctions against them. Eventually, they were forced to modify their domestic law to keep with the treaty. And we’re watching history repeat itself.
How ACTA Serves Corporate Interests
It should be obvious by now that the corrupt, self-serving bastards responsible for this garbage legislation don’t really give a damn about individual freedoms or civil liberties. They couldn’t care less if copyrights are truly protected. They’re in it for themselves- ACTA is about protecting their own interests, at the expense of the consumer. It’s about forcing the world to adhere to their outdated business models, at the expense of innovation. It’s about playing to their greed, at the expense of the world.
How to Stop It
Yes, piracy and counterfeit good production are very real problems- but ACTA is the worst possible solution.
Long story short? Fight this damned farce of a treaty tooth and nail. Do everything in your power. Don’t just sign petitions– write letters to congressman, industry leaders, senators, premiers, anyone you feel has even a remote capability of influencing the proceedings. And Spread the word. Have friends who don’t know about ACTA? Tell them. Have a weblog or personal website? Post about it. Have a social media account? Talk about it.
Know of any physical protests? Pound the pavement. Make a trip down to the nearest body of government, and let them know that you won’t stand for this violation of your rights. That you’ve already suffered through one attempt on your freedoms, and you’re damn well not going to suffer another.
The pretenders behind this treaty don’t run society. We do. Apparently, they need their memories refreshed.
Western society’s been suffering under an infection, of sorts. The lobbyists, the people responsible for bogus legislation like this, for shady back-room dealings translating into international trade law, and for a total disregard of morality and due process…they’re leeches. They’re holding fast to legal loopholes, manipulating human greed, and doctoring laws all so that they can benefit- the erosion of society be damned.
I’ll finish with a quote from a Professor at the University of Southern Maine- I honestly can’t think of a better way to end.
“A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.” -Professor Jason Read
I think it’s high time we purged ourselves of said parasites, don’t you?