If adopted, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty would impose a strong, top-down enforcement regime imposing new cooperation requirements upon ISPs, including perfunctory disclosure of customer information, as well as measures restricting the use of online privacy tools.
The US is proposing a multi-lateral intellectual property trade agreement proposal called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) “Discussion Paper on a Possible anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”, circa October 2007. The agreement covers the copying of information or ideas in a wide variety of contexts. For example page three, paragraph one is a “Pirate Bay killer” clause designed to criminalize the non-profit facilitation of unauthorized information exchange on the internet, which would also negatively affect transparency sites such as Wikileaks.
The document details is a proposal for a multi-lateral trade agreement of strict enforcement of intellectual property rights related to Internet activity and trade in information-based goods. If adopted, a treaty of this form would impose a strong, top-down enforcement regime, with new cooperation requirements upon internet service providers, including perfunctionary disclosure of customer information and a ban on anti-circumvention measures.
The proposal also specifies a plan to encourage developing nations to accept the legal regime.
The source states that trade representatives intend to formalize the agreement at the G-8 summit in July 2008.
The following summary of the trade agreement issue is from IP Justice, an international group directed from San Francisco group that fights for a just world intellectual property regime:
In 2007 a select handful of the wealthiest countries began a treaty-making process to create a new global standard for intellectual property rights enforcement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). ACTA is spearheaded by the United States, the European Commission, Japan, and Switzerland — those countries with the largest intellectual property industries. Other countries invited to participate in ACTA’s negotiation process are Canada, Australia, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand. Noticeably absent from ACTA’s negotiations are leaders from developing countries who hold national policy priorities that differ from the international intellectual property industry.
After the multi-lateral treaty’s scope and priorities are negotiated by the few countries invited to participate in the early discussions, ACTA’s text will be “locked” and other countries who are later “invited” to sign-on to the pact will not be able to re-negotiate its terms. It is claimed that signing-on to the trade agreement will be “voluntary”, but few countries will have the muscle to refuse an “invitation” to join, once the rules have been set by the select few conducting the negotiations.
The US is negotiating ACTA through the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), an office within the Bush Administration that has concluded more than 10 “free trade” agreements in recent years, all of which require both the US and the other country to increase intellectual property rights enforcement measures beyond the international legal norms in the WTO-TRIPS Agreement.
As of 25 March 2008, no draft text has been published yet to provide the public with substance of the proposed international treaty. A “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” was reportedly provided to select lobbyists in the intellectual property industry, but not to public interest organizations concerned with the subject matter of the proposed treaty.
Once again the entertainment industry is doing all it can to meddle in the affairs of sovereign countries and make ISP into gatekeepers of data rather than than conduits to it.