EU Legal Review Agrees With US: ACTA Dreadfully Written; Wide Open To Interpretation

from the this-is-not-a-good-thing dept

Earlier this year, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) did a legal review of ACTA to see if it conformed with existing US law. While the USTR tried to keep the report buried, it eventually came out — and basically said that ACTA was drafted in a dreadfully confusing and opaque way. The issue? It’s not even clear if US law conforms to ACTA, because ACTA can be interpreted in many different ways — some of which suggest the US is in compliance, and some of which say we’re not.

The EU Parliament’s legal service recently conducted a similar review and came to an identical conclusion: ACTA may or may not be legal… depending on how you interpret it.

This should be seen as a massive problem. When you’re crafting a giant international agreement that is binding on various countries (and, yes, the US pretends it’s not binding, but the other signers insist it is binding, meaning under international law, they likely can hold the US to a claim that it’s binding), the fact that it’s so vague that what is and what is not legal under it is totally wide open to interpretation means you’ve drafted a really bad agreement that shouldn’t be approved. In the meantime, any country signing such a document should be ashamed of itself, because it doesn’t even know what it’s bound itself to.

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Comments on “EU Legal Review Agrees With US: ACTA Dreadfully Written; Wide Open To Interpretation”

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31 Comments
xenomancer (profile) says:

Politics and the internet

At least they are finally here with us in the internet age: they aren’t reading the agreements before clicking “ok,” just like the rest of us. Now they just need to start watching porn while in session. It would definitely make channels like C-SPAN more interesting. After all, that’s what the internet is for.

Anonymous Coward says:

But Mike, vague wording is just what’s needed for the ACTA treaty to pass!

After all, it shifts responsibility to judges, so if you’re a politician who voted for the treaty, and judges do something that your voters don’t like when ruling on ACTA then you can just attack the judges for being activists, and promise to replace them with strict constructionists when they retire. It works real well for raising money from the anti-abortion crowd in the USA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You only have to go look at any law “struck down as unconstitutional” to find laws that could (and were) interpreted as illegal.

You can look at the original COPA law, which was enjoined from enforcement in 1998, and found finally in 2007 to be “facially in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution” (thanks wikipedia).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_Online_Protection_Act

There are tons of laws written that don’t past the test of the courts. You can look at many of the immigration laws on the State level, handgun restrictions, and things like that.

The legality of almost any law depends on how it is read, and how it is interpreted by enforcement and then the courts.

Any Mouse (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Does that mean they should stop writing laws? Perhaps just stop trying? This is the conclusion you seem to suggest, and it just doesn’t make sense.

How you come to that conclusion without massive misinterpretation is beyond my understanding. Care to explain to the class where he intimated that we should stop writing laws?

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, since he did write that a law that can be interpreted in various ways, especially if some of them are illegal, is bad it follows that we should discourage the politicians from making such laws.

ACs logic does work, if you assume that all laws, or at least a big portion of them, can be interpreted as being illegal. That’s the big hole in the argument.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Oh, they know!

You’re acting like the politicians doesn’t know this, when they are not just aware of it – it’s intentional!

You see it as binding us, a politician sees it as a way of making any laws they want afterwards, they can just say that we already promised.

Especially the EU-countries are very good at using EU as a shield against backlashes for the laws they make.

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