USTR: We Can't Be Open About ACTA Because We Promised We Wouldn't Be (*Lobbyists Not Included)

from the missing-the-point dept

The US Trade Rep apparently has a thing on their website called "ask the ambassador" and Robin alerts us that recently a "James from Virginia" asked a rather important question:
"If the United States government gives all other governments in the ACTA negotiation a copy of a text, what is the rationale for keeping this a secret from the American public? Why would a negotiation at ACTA be less transparent than negotiations at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the World Trade Organization (WTO)?"
The USTR's answer is really a convenient non-answer. It basically says that it can't reveal the details because everybody promised not to do so. Of course, that doesn't explain why so many lobbyists have such detailed access to the info, and why other countries have revealed the details of the negotiations. The answer that "this is how we do things" isn't particularly reassuring when corporations and diplomats are basically negotiating basic civil rights.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 8:46pm

    ...why other countries have revealed the details of the negotiations.

    What countries have revealed the "details" and where can these "details" for each country be found?

    In all candor, I am struggling with why some believe that access by "lobbyists" (somewhat of a misnomer since most are corporate employees according the the USTR website) is problematic. Access on matters governed by the relevant Presidential Executive Order in most instances does include members of the private sector who are appropriately vetted before access is granted.

    No matter what may come out of these negotiations, the resulting workproduct will still have to comport with US law and must receive the approval of the Senate by a 2/3 vote.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 9:52pm

    "No matter what may come out of these negotiations, the resulting workproduct will still have to comport with US law and must receive the approval of the Senate by a 2/3 vote"

    First, Treaties DO NOT have to comport to US Law, What planet do you live on.. US law as passed by states and Congress must comport to US Treaties. Treaties Trump US Law. Once any treaty is passed, the cast will be sealed. It will be almost IMPOSSIBLE to go back. When was the last time a passed treaty was abrograted?


    Trust me, there will be minimal hearings and no ability to amend or modify. Every Senators will find some reason why they can't vote against it because of some corporation in its(sic) district that will claim great benefits. Tey are the whores that are historically been pushing stupid IP law ... with Hatch as the king penis.


    The stupid dumb F*%* that agreed to have "secret" trade treaties and then the King Dump F$&* claiming national security to defined against a FOIA should be sent to Cuba.

    There is very little value being created within 20 miles of Washington DC and a whole lot of hubris and whoring that sadly will only end with the final decline of the US as a society, a power and a "good" place for someone with ambition and desire to work and create to live in.


    I have no desire to be around 20 years from now when I will naturally die and I am scared what my children will inherit form this degenerate society of greed from $100 Billion corps that need a 70 year old Mickey Mouse to make money to people too stupid to understand they are too poor to buy a house to newpapers that can't relate to the internet and demanding the "Government" Fix it . Screw all them all.

    I don't want to be around as they finally discover that there is no more "fixes".

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 9:57pm

    If other countries are giving out this info can't we just get the info from them? Or must it be translated or something?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 10:00pm

    But of course big corporations and lobbyists are the only ones that have any rights anymore.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 10:03pm

    Re:

    "Access on matters governed by the relevant Presidential Executive Order in most instances does include members of the private sector who are appropriately vetted before access is granted."

    Oh, and the public sector has no interest in these matters? But of course, big corporations are the only ones who have rights anymore and ONLY their interests count. Everyone elses interest don't count.

     

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  6.  
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    Luci, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 10:38pm

    Our government needs to understand that we will no longer tolerate laws and 'treaties' that are made in private. We are returning to the days of the revolution when the government enacted unfair taxes and practices because they could. Because they were the government, and people did as they were told. This is OUR country, as well. We cannot and will not tolerate a governing body that does not listen to the people who put them in power, and whose money they are spending.

     

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  7.  
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    net625, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Yes we will...

    because we are all too lazy to do otherwise, you included.

     

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  8.  
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    Tor (profile), Sep 28th, 2009 @ 11:32pm

    Answer is offline

    USTR's answer is offline. Does anybody have a copy that you can post here?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Dan, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 11:36pm

    And the answer is

    We are only taxpayers and voters, we don't have enough "juice" IE: campaign contributions. What we really need is a national, binding, referendum to mandate campaign financing by taxes exclusively, any deviation would disqualify a candidate from running or holding a public office for life.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2009 @ 11:45pm

    They advise looking at recent FTAs

    The USTR has suggested that we look at recent free trade agreements to get a gist of what sort of things may be discussed.

    Some of the stranger things that have ended up in IP portions of recent free trade agreements (i.e. Australia, Singapore, etc.) include :
    * requiring that courts assume that the plaintiffs are in fact the rights holders and that all the facts are in order unless evidence is given to the contrary (i.e. in part, turning innocent until proven guilty upside down)
    * provisions providing for the destruction of any equipment used in creating the counterfeit merchandise (with no provision made for unwitting third party services).

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:12am

    Re:

    "We are returning to the days of the revolution when the government enacted unfair taxes and practices because they could."

    I think we've passed that a point a LONG time ago. Unfortunately Americans are either too brainwashed or too apathetic to do anything.

     

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  12.  
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    Misanthropist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:37am

    Re: Re:

    I think we've passed that a point a LONG time ago. Unfortunately Americans are either too brainwashed or too apathetic to do anything.

    No, the problem is we're not starving. Hunger changes everything. Hungry people are desperate people. People that are well fed are not quite so desperate.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:46am

    I think we need to organize a march to Congress demanding the following. A: Health freedoms and freedom from FDA tyranny. B: No secret treaties or ACTA nonsense. C: That intellectual property doesn't last as long (no more than seven years). D: That the plaintiff has as much to lose for falsely suing for intellectual property infringement as the defendant. None of this $250,000 or 5 years in prison for violating copyright infringement but only $2,500 in compensatory damages for proving that someone, with fraudulent intent, sued you for intellectual property damages. Also, none of this TI claiming that I can't modify MY calculator in whichever way I want because it violates their DMCA or some other law.

     

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  14.  
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    Arborlaw (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:19am

    Re:

    Link no longer works.

     

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  15.  
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    Misanthropist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:43am

    Re: Re:

    Link no longer works.

    Still works for me.

     

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  16.  
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    Constitution of the United States, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:01am

    Re:

    "US law as passed by states and Congress must comport to US Treaties. Treaties Trump US Law. Once any treaty is passed, the cast will be sealed. It will be almost IMPOSSIBLE to go back."

    I disagree

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Robin, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Re: Make a Difference

    "Our government needs to understand that we will no longer tolerate laws and 'treaties' that are made in private."

    Here's how you can do so:

    http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/ask-ambassador

    For instance, I sent a very polite letter to Ambassador Kirk strongly informing him of my view that secret talks with corporate lobbyists does not qualify as sovereign-to-sovereign negotiating.

    Imagine if Techdirt's entire readership did so. I suspect we'd be heard.

    Whether they would listen is another question :), but hey, at least you're speaking up.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:33am

    Look guys, if you want to have any say about how this ACTA treaty is done, you can change it! Vote with your dollars! Anyone can buy OCP stock and own a piece of your country. What could be more democratic than that?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Robin, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:42am

    Re: Make a Difference

    Sorta double posting sorry, but took me a while to dig this up. My question sent along to the USTR:

    Dear Ambassader Kirk,

    Could you please explain publicly how

    Neil I. Turkewitz, Esq.
    Executive Vice President
    Recording Industry Association of America

    according to USTR's own documentation:

    http://www.ita.doc.gov/itac/committees/ipr.asp

    qualifies as a sovereign nation with privileged access to sovereign-to-sovereign negotiations.

    Also please explain how I am also not similarly privileged.

    Thank you.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    Mike C. (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:47am

    Submit your own question...

    The site is back up and while the question from "James" is deserving of a better answer, I can't say I'm surprised by the one he got. That being said, I asked what I hope is a more pointed question and recommend that everyone ask questions to let them know people ARE following these negotiations and that there very would could be repercussions from bad decisions.

    My question started by indicating that the list of committee members (found here) includes a number of people with a vested interest in increasing IP restrictions. I then asked what was being done to insure that consumer interests and public benefit were being properly balanced with any new restrictions being added.

    Again, I doubt I'm going to get an answer that I like, but I feel better that the question has been asked and hope that others start posting questions too. What strikes me most is that it's sad to see myself have such a low expectation of getting an honest answer in return.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Make a Difference

    More to the point, how do ANY of those people listed on that link qualify any more than I do?

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:06am

    Re:

    I am struggling with why some believe that access by "lobbyists" (somewhat of a misnomer since most are corporate employees according the the USTR website) is problematic.


    What is problematic is granting exclusive access to established corporate interests to information in trade negotiations. When one corporation's lobbyist is given access to policy negotiations, that information should rightly be opened to all competitors and potential competitors (i.e. every citizen in the U.S.). Closed door exclusive negotiations basically define corruption.

    What is also problematic is how the government seems to have stopped legislating and working for citizens, and started working for corporations and "consumers". But this is a much larger issue that would best be dealt with by simply throwing out the entire apparatus (so-called "two party") currently dominating our government.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    D. isagreeable, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: I disagree.

    >I disagree.

    I disagree with you disagreeing.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Trails, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:27am

    Re: Courts

    Congress may pass it, but the courts would strike it down if unconstitutional, wouldn't they? (I'm asking, that's not rhetorical)

    I realize that relying on the courts(unelected) in order to defend rights against congress and senate(elected) is appalling, but at least they're there.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Trails, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re:

    We can't find anyone who speaks freaky-deaky Dutch.

    I think it's more that some details are being leaked, no one has officially released info.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Trails, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Make a Difference

    I suspect you would nit be heard. I would bet large sums of money on the fact that you would be completely ignored.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:46am

    Re: Re:

    Be careful what you click.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Make a Difference

    Listen, if enough people start marching to congress to compel them to change something they WILL. Look at the do not call registry, that was done AGAINST the will of corporations. People took action and forced the government to comply.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    MattP, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re:

    "What is also problematic is how the government seems to have stopped legislating and working for citizens, and started working for corporations and 'consumers'."

    Welcome to the last 30 years.

    While I completely agree with what you're saying the real problem is the vast majority of the American public is disengaged while corporations are hyper-engaged in these issues.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re:

    Thank you for stating a rather key point that seems to be overlooked by so many.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Courts

    Yes.

    Once passed, a treaty is the same as any other US law. It is subject to court review.

    That said, it's the Supreme Court that would be the one that would have to rule on it, so I wouldn't hold my breath.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:51am

    Re:

    ...I am scared what my children will inherit form this degenerate society of greed from $100 Billion corps that need a 70 year old Mickey Mouse to make money to people too stupid to understand they are too poor to buy a house...

    Well, I have lots of stock in those corporations so that I and my children will have plenty of money to buy houses and hire little people like your children to do any dirty work that needs to be done. That's the way it works. It's called capitalism and there's not a thing you can do about it. So long sucker.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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