Who else knew there was an internet security treaty being negotiated. Yeah. Neither did I. That’s not the problem. The details of the treaty are being kept super secret. That bothers me. Plus, there is a certain “World Government” feel to this whole thing.
Here are some details:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations continue in a few hours as Seoul, Korea plays host to the latest round of talks. The governments have posted the meeting agenda, which unsurprisingly focuses on the issue of Internet enforcement [UPDATE 11/4: Post on discussions for day two of ACTA talks, including the criminal enforcement provisions]. The United States has drafted the chapter under enormous secrecy, with selected groups granted access under strict non-disclosure agreements and other countries (including Canada) given physical, watermarked copies designed to guard against leaks.
But leaks happen. Many are unhappy with what they are learning. Canadian Michael Geist, the author of this article goes on to note:
If Canada agrees to these ACTA terms, flexibility in WIPO implementation (as envisioned by the treaty) would be lost and Canada would be forced to implement a host of new reforms (this is precisely what U.S. lobbyists have said they would like to see happen). In other words, the very notion of a made-in-Canada approach to copyright would be gone.
Canada would not be the only Nation that would loose its autonomy. Australians and New Zelanders are also weary of the same thing. Worse still, the Austrailian Electronic Frontiers points out that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is more of a bait-and-switch. It’s billed as an anti-counterfeit treaty, but as the details show, it’s a way for the US to bully it’s arcane copyright laws on the rest of the world.
The Electronic Freedom Foundation gives an even more troubling analysis of the info gleaned so far:
First, according to the leaks, ACTA member countries will be required to provide for third-party (Internet Intermediary) liability. This is not required by any of the major international IP treaties – not by the 1994 Trade Related Aspects of IP agreement, nor the WIPO Copyright and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. However, US copyright owners have long sought this. (For instance, see page 19 of the Industry Functional Advisory Committee report on the 2003 US- Singapore Free Trade Agreement noting the need for introducing a system of ISP liability). (Previously available at http://www.ustr.gov/new/fta/Singapore/advisor_reports.htm.)
Second and more importantly, ACTA will include some limitations on Internet Intermediary liability. Many ACTA negotiating countries already have these regimes in place: the US, EU, Australia, Japan, South Korea. To get the benefit of the ACTA safe harbors, Internet intermediaries will need to follow notice and takedown regimes, and put in place policies to deter unauthorized storage and transmission of allegedly copyright infringing content.
However, contrary to current US law and practice, the US text apparently conditions the safe harbors on Internet intermediaries adopting a Graduated Response or Three Strikes policy. IDG reports that:
“The U.S. wants ACTA to force ISPs to “put in place policies to deter unauthorized storage and transmission of IP infringing content (for example clauses in customers’ contracts allowing a graduated response),” according to the [leaked European] Commission memo.”
Let’s reflect on what this means: First, the US government appears to be pushing for Three Strikes to be part of the new global IP enforcement regime which ACTA is intended to create – despite the fact that it has been categorically rejected by the European Parliament and by national policymakers in several ACTA negotiating countries, and has never been proposed by US legislators.
Second, US negotiators are seeking policies that will harm the US technology industry and citizens across the globe. Three Strikes/ Graduated Response is the top priority of the entertainment industry. The content industry has sought this since the European office of the Motion Picture Association began touting Three Strikes as ISP “best practice” in 2005. Indeed, the MPAAand the RIAA expressly asked for ACTA to include obligations on ISPs to adopt Three Strikes policies in their 2008 submissions to the USTR. The USTR apparently listened and agreed, disregarding the concerns raised by both the US’s major technology and telecom companies and industry associations (who dwarf the US entertainment industry), and public interest groups and libraries.
…US law currently gives ISPs considerable flexibility to determine what are “appropriate circumstances” justifying the termination of a customer’s Internet account. If the leak reports are correct, this would no longer be true. Instead, ISPs would be required to automatically terminate a customer upon a rightsholders’ repeat allegation of copyright infringement at a particular IP address.
So, if I read this right, then the US would end up changing its own laws, not through the processes enshrined in the Constitution, through Congress and the Presidency, but via international treaty. Is the Obama administration really this much in the tank for the entertainment industry? And I though it was the Bushies who were the Corporate thugs.
PS. I do wonder if the same people who are concerned about national sovereignty in this case will also be concerned if the same type of over-arching regulations are attempted in the Copenhagen Global Warming shindig next month.