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?
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Filed Under: acta, copyright, secrecy, sunlight, trade agreements

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

    politics and bs hard at work

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