From Washington Watcher:
SOPA, PIPA, ACTA … What’s Next?
We just beat back SOPA and PIPA with the web blackout.
Now everyone is talking about ACTA. But – because ACTA is complicated, and is just starting to receive coverage – most are not sure exactly what ACTA really is, or why we should be concerned about it.
We’ll give you an executive summary of what you need to know.
Instead of giving you the specifics about what’s actually in the bill (we provide links at the end for those who want to know), we’ll explain why the procedure used is a recipe for disaster.
Why are we stressing procedure over substance?
Because, as awful as ACTA is, there are other horrible bills such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement waiting in the wings … which may be even worse than ACTA.
Unless we understand the rotten, anti-democratic process which is causing these bad bills to be introduced, we will be caught off-guard by the introduction of one draconian bill after another … and we will lose the fight for Internet freedom.
(The problem is that powerful men are making laws in secret to protect their interests.)
On the most superficial level, ACTA is an attempt to ram American intellectual property policies down Europe’s throat.
As the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Eva Galperin told me:
The United States will continue to use multi-national treaties negotiated in secret without the consultation of civil society or other key stakeholders as a way of ramming US IP policy down the throats of other countries.
But this is a superficial analysis. Specifically, it is also an attempt to ram Hollywood’s interests down the throats of the American people … and Congress.
The fastest way to understand ACTA is to look at the way in which its backers have tried to trample the normal democratic processes in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere in order to railroad it through.
As an international treaty, ACTA is supposed to be ratified by the American Senate and other appropriate government legislatures. But this is not at all what has happened.
Instead, ACTA has been negotiated for years in secret, without disclosing its contents – let alone seeking approval from – Congress or other legislatures.
In the United States, for example, President Bush and President Obama hid ACTA negotiations under the veil of “National Security”, thus keeping it away from prying eyes … including Congress.
Republican Congressman Darrell Issa says that ACTA is more dangerous than SOPA:
“As a member of Congress, it’s more dangerous than SOPA. It’s not coming to me for a vote. It purports that it does not change existing laws. But once implemented, it creates a whole new enforcement system and will virtually tie the hands of Congress to undo it.”