Leaked Cable Shows That ACTA Secrecy Is Way Beyond Normal

from the didn't-we-say-that? dept

As more and more attention was paid to the ridiculous level of secrecy concerning the ACTA negotiators last year, a bunch of ACTA supporters tried to claim that the level of secrecy (such as calling it a state secret involving national security) was perfectly normal for such agreements. A year ago, we went through a rather detailed explanation of how similar negotiations were much more open. The response we heard was that we were wrong and that this was “entirely normal.” Turns out, even the diplomats involved knew this was bunk. One of the latest cable leaks from Wikileaks shows an Italian diplomat complaining to a US official about the level of secrecy involved in ACTA, noting that it’s much higher than normal and that it makes it more difficult to get stuff done:

The level of confidentiality in these ACTA negotiations has been set at a higher level than is customary for non-security agreements. According to Mazza, it is impossible for member states to conduct necessary consultations with IPR stakeholders and legislatures under this level of confidentiality.

Can’t wait to see defenders of ACTA secrecy try to backtrack their claims that the secrecy level was perfectly normal.

Separately, this particular cable shows some of the problems with the USTR’s annual Special 301 report in which it makes up a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice when it comes to intellectual property issues — based not on evidence, but almost entirely on entertainment industry and pharma industry say so. The Italian official complained to the US that Italy had been working hard to crack down on infringement in Italy, but the USTR slammed them anyway and made no mention of all of the efforts they’d already put towards pushing through changes that Hollywood (via the State Department) was demanding. The Italian official was worried that this would actually lead to a setback, as Italian government officials wondered why they should bother if the USTR was just going to slam them no matter what they did.

Of course, none of this is a surprise. The same points about both the Special 301 process and ACTA secrecy were made by many folks, including us at Techdirt, and every time we did, supporters mocked us for “crying wolf” and making stuff up. Yet, now, it turns out that the points many folks were raising were also being stated by government officials.

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Comments on “Leaked Cable Shows That ACTA Secrecy Is Way Beyond Normal”

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herbert says:

if the Italians and other countries ministers were so concerned about the level of secrecy over ACTA and from the level of ‘input’ (demands) from the entertainment industries, along with the adverse affects that still occurred, regardless of what countries had done/tried to do already, why did they not pull out of the negotiations? why did they not ‘go public’ with what was happening? it is no good complaining, then continuing to go along with what they thought was wrong and still voting to accept it. this seems to me like an exercise in wanting to do what was demanded, but then making out to the relative citizens that they were against ACTA, but were still out-voted! squeaky clean? i dont think so!! hypocrites? more like it!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They didn’t leave the negotiations because this cable / memo is from a single unelected individual from a single government office. In the same manner that Republicans disagree with almost everything that the Democrats want to do, no matter how silly the argument, they will oppose.

TD is careful not to mention political affiliations, but in the end, they are key to understanding the actions of the people involved.

What is particularly funny is that the cable is about his opinion expressed pre-2008. Looking Fabrizio Mazza up on Google doesn’t bring really much up, suggesting this guy doesn’t wield much actual power.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (user link) says:


“if the Italians and other countries ministers were so concerned…why did they not pull out of the negotiations? why did they not ‘go public’ with what was happening?”

Admittedly this is just an educated guess, but I’m going to go with “because they’re not insane”. More precisely, because unlike you, they are able to perform a rational cost/benefit analysis of their options.

Option one: Go along with it
Cost: Procedurally corrupt and the proposed laws are possibly harmful to your citizens, which are quite liable to hate you for the decision
Benefit: Favor with the most powerful country in the world

Option two: Pull out
Benefit: More moral than going along with it, and your citizens aren’t likely to hate you
Cost: End up on the political and economic hit list of the most powerful country in the world (anybody remember Canada and Spain?)

Option three: Expose all the corruption involved
Benefit: Most moral choice (assuming it doesn’t get dinged for breaking your promise to keep everything confidential)
Cost: Just about everybody who follows international agreements hates you for betraying the trust of all the nations in the ACTA talks

You seem to say that anyone who isn’t willing to economically and politically sacrifice their country is an asshole. While I must respect you from a moral perspective, taking the straight and VERY narrow, you are likely to run any country you lead into the ground.

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