This is a guest article from SearchFreak, an internet engineer and chief executive of an Internet business that provides services to millions of users.
After Wikipedia and several thousand other sites staged a blackout recently, everybody nows knows about SOPA and PIPA.
But this is not the only piece of legislation being pushed by governments that many perceive as pro-censorship.
What is ACTA?
For those new to ACTA, or the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, it is an agreement between multiple countries to establish new international standards for intellectual property rights and enforcement. The European Union is one of those parties. The scope of ACTA includes counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet.
Why should I worry?
The procedure for drafting the text of the agreement and the text of the agreement itself have received numerous complaints. The negotiations and draft texts of this agreement were kept secret until finalized. Civil rights groups and developing countries were excluded from the negotiations but the MPAA, RIAA and pharma lobby were constantly consulted on the text.
Multiple groups and organizations that defend civil liberties have come out against ACTA saying that the treaty will restrict fundamental civil and digital rights, including the freedom of expression and communication privacy.
According to an analysis by the Free Software Foundation, ACTA would require that existing ISPs no longer host free software that can access copyrighted media, and DRM protected media would not be legally playable with free software.
Nate Anderson with Ars Technica pointed out that ACTA encourages service providers to collect and provide information about suspected infringers by giving them “safe harbor from certain legal threats”.
Under ACTA, copyright infringement on a commercial scale will be criminalized, but the standard for commercial scale is set low.
ACTA also allows criminal investigations and invasive searches to be performed against individuals for whom there is no probable cause: your laptop or iphone could be searched when you cross the border.
Oxfam says that ACTA will impact access to affordable medicines in the EU by curbing generic medicine competition. Put simply, it will make it harder to compete with big pharma. As if this is what we need right now, during harsh economic times, higher prices on medicine.
European Digital Rights (EDRi) says that, with ACTA, the interests of rightsholders are put ahead of free speech, privacy, and other fundamental rights. ACTA pushes Internet providers to carry out surveillance of their networks and disclose the personal information of alleged infringers to rightsholders.
ACTA would therefore place the regulation of free speech in the hands of private companies.
Please act TODAY:
Your voice has been heard with SOPA and PIPA. Your voice can be heard with ACTA.
ACTA is being discussed by several comittess in the EU parliament. Tomorrow, the Development Comitteee discusses ACTA.
Please use the tools from the address below and call your MEP at the European Parliament. All the tools you need, via EDRi.
Here’s a White House petition.