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"Secret intellectual property treaty could profoundly change life on the Internet"


So argues David Bollier in the post Et tu, Obama? Open Government Suffers Another Blow. An excerpt:

A government cannot be held accountable if there is a cloak of secrecy around its core deliberations and citizens are excluded from the process. … So what gives with the Obama administration’s refusal to share the most basic documents about a pending intellectual property treaty that are widely available among corporate lobbyists in Europe, Japan and the United States?

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, may sound arcane, and certainly its corporate champions must wish to make it seem boring and obscure. But in fact, the misleadingly named treaty could dramatically alter the Internet by allowing the film, music, publishing and other industries to aggressively enforce their IP rights, as they broadly construe them, at the expense of citizens, consumers and creators. All this would be achieved through secret deliberations — an international version of the smoke-filled room: another brazen disenfranchisement of citizens and trampling of democratic norms.

No official version of the proposed treaty has been released, but it is known that it seeks to set forth standards for enforcing cases of alleged copyright and patent infringement. The treaty also seeks to provide legal authority for the surveillance of Internet file transfers and searches of personal property. Read more about ACTA here and here.

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.

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