As we recently reported, ACTA has been dealt a serious blow by the EU Rapporteur's recommendation that the European Parliament should reject the treaty. In a fascinating leaked document (pdf) obtained by EDRI, it seems that even the G8 countries have accepted that ACTA is probably dead -- and have started working on a successor.
Although the short (three-page) document appears to have avoided ACTA's mistake of mixing two totally different issues -- physical counterfeits and digital copying -- and concentrates on the former, there are still major ramifications for the online world, as EDRI points out:
The Internet section, while avoiding the issue of policing of digital copying, is partially copied and pasted from the White House annual report on IPR Enforcement.
Moreover, like ACTA, the initiative is also a thinly-veiled attempt to implant the US's approach in countries around the world:
The G8 document seeks to export the entire US policy on the role of intermediaries in the trade in physical counterfeits. In particular, it seeks to make American companies into a form of global non-judicial police force / government, with responsibilities ranging from "educating" citizens to policing and, ultimately, punishing companies and citizens on the basis of allegations.
The main way the new plan hopes to do that is through "voluntary cooperative efforts", of the kind employed by ACTA, SOPA and the planned six-strikes scheme in the US, which handily avoids the need for new legislation:
Promoting voluntary cooperative efforts to tackle the proliferation of illegal Internet pharmacies. G8 countries could pledge to facilitate voluntary cooperative efforts among businesses in the pharmaceutical supply chain to stem the flow of counterfeit medicines. The voluntary industry actions could include options ranging from the financial (e.g. blocking credit card payments), to the physical (e.g., shippers refusing transportation), to the virtual (e.g., taking appropriate action against unlawful websites).
The other interesting feature of the leaked "non-paper", as it calls itself, is the way that the Internet is being demonized for its involvement with the increased flow of fake medicines:
Reports of counterfeit drugs being found in U.S. supply chains are now a frequent occurrence. These drugs pose grave threats to public health. Increased access to the Internet, coupled with new methods of manufacturing and distributing illegal pharmaceuticals have created new challenges to safeguarding the legitimate supply chain.
It's hard not to see this as a further attempt to paint the Internet as a dangerous, lawless place that needs "taming" because of the "grave threats to public health". I suppose it's a change from asking us to think of the children.
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