By Michael Snyder
Global Internet censorship is here. SOPA and PIPA have been stopped (at least for now) in the United States, but a treaty known as ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is far worse than either of them. ACTA was quietly signed by Barack Obama back on October 1st, 2011 and most Americans have never even heard of it. But it could mean the end of the Internet as we know it. This new treaty gives foreign governments and copyright owners incredibly broad powers. If you are alleged to have violated a copyright, your website can be shut down without a trial and police may even show up at your door to take you to prison. It doesn’t even have to be someone in the United States that is accusing you. It could just be a foreign government or a copyright owner halfway across the world that alleges that you have violated a copyright. It doesn’t matter. So far, the U.S., the EU and seven other nations have signed on to ACTA, and the number of participants is expected to continue to grow. The “powers that be” are obsessed with getting Internet censorship one way or another. The open and free Internet that you and I have been enjoying for all these years is about to change, and not for the better.
So how come the U.S. Senate never voted on ACTA? Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution mandate that all treaties must be approved by a two-thirds vote in the Senate?
Of course it does.
But Barack Obama has gotten around this by calling ACTA an “executive agreement”, which is a load of crap.
Unfortunately, this is the kind of nonsense we are getting out of Obama on a regular basis now. He has shown endless disdain for the U.S. Constitution.
Some members of Congress are expressing deep alarm over ACTA. For example, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa is calling ACTA “more dangerous than SOPA“.
There are some members of Congress that are even demanding that ACTA be submitted to the U.S. Senate for a vote. Unfortunately, their voices are very few so far, and ACTA is getting next to no coverage in the mainstream media.
But this new treaty is very, very serious. It basically mandates that all Internet communications be constantly monitored for copyright infringement. Sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter will have to monitor accounts for copyright infringement 24 hours a day.
If you are alleged to have committed a violation, you might not just lose your social media account or your website.
You could potentially be sent to prison.
What we are talking about is Chinese-style Internet censorship for the entire globe.
The following comes from a recent Forbes article….
“Why does ACTA matter to the media and citizens?” writes Alex Howard. “Consider the phrase “intermediary liability.” That’s the principle that websites on the Internet, like YouTube, Internet service providers, web hosting companies or social networks, should not be held liable for the content created or uploaded by their users.”
The new rules proposed in ACTA essentially transform Western ISPs into something more along the lines of ISPs in China and other more restrictive nations.
One of the worst elements of ACTA is that it would allow accusers of copyright infringement to completely and totally bypass judicial review.
If you don’t think that ACTA will change the Internet, just check out the following excerpt from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson….
Under the provisions of ACTA, copyright holders will be granted sweeping direct powers to demand ISPs remove material from the Internet on a whim. Whereas ISPs normally are only forced to remove content after a court order, all legal oversight will be abolished, a precedent that will apply globally, rendering the treaty worse in its potential scope for abuse than SOPA or PIPA.
Big sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter may just decide that it is too much of a hassle to monitor millions of pieces of content. Allowing users to constantly post content on their sites would be a huge risk. In fact, if they are found to be allowing “copyright infringement”, those sites could be permanently shut down.
The American people need to get educated about this new treaty before it is too late. There is still a chance that we could get the U.S. Congress to take action against this new treaty.
Under ACTA, Internet service providers will essentially be required to become the police of the Internet. This was explained in a recent article by Cory Doctorow….
New revelations on ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a secretive global copyright being privately negotiated by rich countries away from the UN: ACTA will require ISPs to police trademarks the way they currently police copyright. That means that if someone accuses you of violating a trademark with a web-page, blog-post, video, tweet, etc, your ISP will be required to nuke your material without any further proof, or be found to be responsible for any trademark violations along with you. And of course, trademark violations are much harder to verify than copyright violations, since they often hinge on complex, fact-intensive components like tarnishment, dilution and genericization. Meaning that ISPs are that much more likely to simply take all complaints at face-value, leading to even more easy censorship of the Internet with nothing more than a trumped-up trademark claim.
One of the big problems with ACTA is that it is way too broad and way too vague.
Vague language allows authorities to “interpret” the law any way that they see fit.
This can often lead to selective enforcement. Websites that authorities like will be left alone, while those that they don’t like will be harassed or completely shut down.
ACTA was written in secret and it has been pushed through very, very quietly. The following comes from a recent CNN article….
Like many trade agreements, ACTA is a confusing mess. Even its signatories don’t agree on how it’s supposed to work. The way it’s been pushed forward has also been unruly — talks have been held in secret, without any kind of legislative oversight or input from citizens or public-interest groups. The public only became aware of it in 2008, a couple of years after discussions began, when Wikileaks published a discussion paper. Since then, drafts of the pact have been released to the public, each successively less onerous to critics. Reportedly, though, big media and pharmaceutical lobbyists have been privy to the talks all along
Of course – this is a chance for big media and big corporations to take control of the Internet.
The way ACTA has been pushed on us has been absolutely disgusting. In fact, one key EU official that was in charge of investigating ACTA has resigned in protest over how this whole thing has gone down. He says that ACTA is basically being crammed down the throats of the European people….
I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament’s demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.
As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens’ legitimate demands.”
Everyone knows the ACTA agreement is problematic, whether it is its impact on civil liberties, the way it makes Internet access providers liable, its consequences on generic drugs manufacturing, or how little protection it gives to our geographical indications.
This agreement might have major consequences on citizens’ lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade.
For much more on ACTA, please watch the remarkable video posted below. It does a great job of explaining exactly what ACTA is and why we need to be so concerned about it….
The world is changing and the Internet is changing.
If you don’t speak up now, the Internet as we know it today may soon be gone for good.
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