Debunking Reasons For ACTA Secrecy: Just Enforcement Doesn't Tell The Whole Story

from the open-things-up dept

We've had a series of posts debunking all of the bogus claims from supporters of ACTA and the current secrecy involved in the ACTA process -- such as how this secrecy is "normal" (no its not), how this is "just an executive agreement, not a treaty" (the difference is effectively meaningless) and how this can't change US law so there's nothing to worry about (even if it doesn't change US law directly, it can prevent fixing problems in the law, while putting pressure on legislators to change the law anyway). Well, here's another one, courtesy of the folks over at Public Knowledge.

One of the claims that's been made in defense of the "secrecy" around ACTA is that the agreement is really just about "enforcement," rather than any legal changes. While we've already questioned how true that claim really is, John Bergmayer, does a nice job explaining why we should be worried about an agreement on "enforcement" anyway: because the question of enforcement is meaningless compared to the actual procedure of enforcement. Bergmayer quotes Rep. John Dingell to make the point:
"I'll let you write the substance ... you let me write the procedure, and I'll screw you every time."
The fear here is that while ACTA might not technically change US law, it could easily change US procedures and policies on "enforcement" allowing the effective change in the law, without people even realizing it. He quotes Professor Thomas Main, saying:
"procedural reforms can have the effect of denying substantive rights without the transparency, safeguards and accountability that attend public and legislative decision-making."
And, indeed, this is what we've see in the leaked drafts of ACTA. While most (though, certainly not all) of the proposals that have been leaked don't necessarily include a direct change to US law, they often do subtly word things so that existing rights, safeguards and accountability are left out, just as Prof. Main warns. To make sure those subtle changes do not have serious impacts that let certain special interests (in the words of Rep. Dingell) "screw" the public, doesn't it make sense to reveal the contents of what's being negotiated?

Filed Under: acta, enforcement, laws, procedures, restrictions

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  1. icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), 19 Feb 2010 @ 12:27am


    I have yet to see any insults or name calling in this entire comment section of this story. So not sure where that is coming from. And you have been getting real response.
    Yes, Mike is ok with you copying his content, putting it on your own site and running ads next to it. He has said so on many different occassions.

    And yes, it's about protecting culture, democracy, and liberty.

    Culture, because by locking everything up with insane copyright levies and royalties will make sure that at some point no-one will want to use our current culture to build other stuff on (Yes, in the olden days, artists built upon works of others).
    Democracy, ACTA is a highly undemocratic document. It's being forced from above to us, we, the people never got any say in it.
    And liberty, if you can get booted of the internet from just 3 accusations (mind you, no convictions, nor any need for proof, just an accusation is enough), that's a violation of my basic right of liberty on the Internet.

    Yes, copyright infringement is illegal, and has been all these years, and ACTA won't change that. But it will change the world in many unprecedented ways, that will harm YOUR basic rights. Whether you downloaded MP3s off of bittorrent or not. It just takes 1 a-hole with enough technical knowhow to get YOU booted of the web for good. (IP-addresses and MAC-addresses can be spoofed quiet easily)

    Besides all that, ACTA is being written by a bunch of hypocrits. Because a lot of the people in the industry and those who support ACTA have infringed on copyrights themselves. There is proof about this on this very website and in other media.

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