US Using Bogus Excuses For Denying Access To ACTA Documents

from the transparency? dept

And here's another bit of "transparency" that's just as lacking in the new administration as the last. For months, those of us concerned about backroom deals on intellectual property treaties bypassing an open legislative process have been demanding more sunlight on negotiations around ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. To date, the various folks negotiating the agreement -- which includes both entertainment industry representatives and government trade representatives from around the world -- have been averse to any sort of transparency, using the rather weak excuse that such treaties are always negotiated in secret. Amusingly, they even recently held a secret meeting where they promised to be more transparent. That's comforting.

In order to push this transparency issue forward, plenty of folks have been filing freedom of information requests to get documents related to the agreement and the negotiations. Up in Canada, these requests have revealed that the government may have publicly lied or misled people about its negotiations in ACTA. In the US, though, things are even more ridiculous. Apparently the US Trade Representative is refusing to release most of the documents requested under the FOIA claiming (I kid you not) that to release such documents could "implicate national security or expose the USTR's deliberative processes."

But, of course, the USTR had no problem at all sharing all this info with entertainment industry lobbyists. In the few documents that were released, it turns out that the USTR met privately with representatives of various "anti-piracy" lobbying groups multiple times in 2008 -- without bothering to consult with the folks who these laws would actually impact. In other words, they're getting one side of the story. Even worse, those lobbyists have been called out, repeatedly -- by the US government, no less -- for outright fabrications concerning the impact of piracy and counterfeiting. So why is the USTR only relying on them for determining how this trade agreement will work? And why is there no effort to make these negotiations more public so that all stakeholders have a say?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 3:47pm

    so...

    It's exactly as I always expect: Business as usual. I do my best to HOPE for change but I don't vote because I don't care to be let down again, again, again and again. It's been 20 years and at this point I can say I'm pretty happy without it.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Christopher Smith, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 3:55pm

    Deliberative processes

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the entire point of the FOIA was to make sure that citizens could inspect the government's decision-making processes...

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Sheesh, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 5:07pm

    I'm shocked I tell ya

    Yes, I am shocked that there has not been large and radical changes in our federal government in the past two weeks.

    I fully expected that everything would be fixed by now !

    Just what in the hell are they doing up there ?

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    asavage, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 6:14pm

    Re: so...

    since your to lazy to get off ass and vote -- who cares what you think?
    and guess what? this nation has gotten along fine for those 20 years with you just sitting on butt pissing and moaning.
    so far as change -- the new guy has been in office 10 frigging days.[And I did not even vote for him]
    --Savage

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    valcanoman, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 6:37pm

    MONEY MONEY AND MORE MONEY. is that clear now?

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Dan, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 10:43pm

    Its easy

    just follow the money trail. You will probably find a negotiator in every lobbyists pocket, its like a job perc.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 3:40am

    politics and bs hard at work

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 3:40am

    politics and bs hard at work

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Jack Sombra, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 4:25am

    "And here's another bit of "transparency" that's just as lacking in the new administration as the last."
    Oh come on it's only been two weeks, to expect these kind of changes that fast is not optimistic but downright naive

    Either that or you are just trolling in an attempt for impact

    It will take years to change the mindset of the individuals in government to a new way of doing buisness

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    mudlock, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 8:11am

    New guy?

    Has the USTR been replaced by Obama, or is he still using Bush's?

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 7:48pm

    Re: Re: so...

    You really believe that voting is doing something?

    Campaigns are about money. Obama won because he outspent McCain. That doesn't mean he won't be a great president (or that he will). It does mean that things will be largely business as usual.

    At any rate, I'm reserving judgement on Obama for a few more years. It will take time to change things. Also, IP issues aren't large.

    Until IP laws are connected to to economic health overall, people will see it as a fringe issue.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Re: so...

    since your [sic] to lazy to get off ass and vote -- who cares what you think?
    Maybe he was voting for "none of the above". Did you ever think of that? And talk about lazy, "too lazy to use the shift key" ranks right up there.
    this nation has gotten along fine for those 20 years with you just sitting on butt pissing and moaning
    Yeah, the US doesn't have a problem one. Pffft.
    so far as change -- the new guy has been in office 10 frigging days.[And I did not even vote for him]
    Too lazy, huh?

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    Re:

    will take years to change the mindset of the individuals in government to a new way of doing buisness
    Ordering the USTR to honor the FOIA request would be a good start towards change. Not doing so would just be confirmation of "business as usual".

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: so...

    "Obama won because he outspent McCain."

    And there were absolutely no other reasons.
    really
    I find your lack of imagination disturbing.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2009 @ 9:33am

    National Security?

    Now let me get this straight: The USTR is claiming that releasing this information would violate national security, yet is releasing it to known-to-be-untrustworthy, dishonest parties (the industry lobbyists)? That sounds treasonous to me. In that case, the current USTR should be charged, tried and, if convicted, sent to prison for a long, long time. Period.

    Of course, the Department of Justice is probably way too corrupt to prosecute such a case. In fact, they're probably cheering the USTR on.

     

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


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