So it turns out that our governments are duplicitous creatures and apparently entirely in the deep pockets of the entertainment industry. Today I am thoroughly disgusted with the UK, which has agreed to ratify Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Fortunately we still have some time, as the issue still needs to be voted in the European parliament, and if it fails there, it fails globally.
The Disgusting Circumvention of Politics
Now that really irks me about ACTA is that it isn’t being passed as law, it’s being pushed through as a trade agreement, something that doesn’t require governments to have public approval. This means they have been able to push this through stealthily, and without making it a transparent agreement for the world to look at. Probably because if they had, the world would have gone into even more massive uproar than over SOPA.
This tactic of pushing through bills that affect laws and criminal codes is called Policy Laundering. And it is massively in breach of what people would perceive as our democratic rights, especially since it modifies the criminal code. This is a civil matter, and needs to be decided in parliament, with full exposure to the public, not made secretly hidden from the public.
After all, SOPA was merely an extension of the US Law, ACTA on the other hand is Global. There is no protection and no place to hide.
Given that the countries pushing it as well are supposed to be democratic nations, the fact that this has not been a democratic process in the slightest is a massive breach of the trust we place in our governments. It is about time that we made out governments stand up and listen to us as a nation. We have been giving over this power to them and now they are abusing it.
How the HELL does ACTA affect me?
In a million ways.
For starters it basically requires that ISPs screen all content that passes along their networks for copyright material. To put it bluntly and really hit home. It basically involves them reading your emails.
Now I can guarantee that if the government demanded that your postal mail was all read before being sent out by you, you’d be pretty pissed. This is a huge breach of the fundamental rights and freedoms of us as European citizens. It completely restricts our freedom to expression and communications privacy.
For instance, post anything marked as copyright that you don’t realise and post to Facebook, means you lose your internet connection. No bullshit. ISPs would be required to disconnect you from the network. End of story.
Now tell me that isn’t a huge breach of my freedom to communications privacy, and my right to communication. Plus given that there was talk of access to information on the internet being classified as a basic human right, then this is now in breach of my human rights. HURRAY.
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published “Speak out against ACTA”, stating that the ACTA threatens free software by creating a culture “in which the freedom that is required to produce free software is seen as dangerous and threatening rather than creative, innovative, and exciting.
That quote from the Free Software foundation highlights a bit of the threat towards the creative industries as well. This bill would also mean the death of software repositories like GitHub and my personal favourite, Sourceforge as well.
Also to my fellow Unix and Linux brothers! You like music as well right. Well say goodbye to being able to play your music Collection. ACTA would make it illegal to play Non-Free media in open source media players.
That’s right; anyone who uses Open Source software to play DRM material will essentially be committing a crime. Tell me that is not completely fucked up in every single way.
You’ve sold me, what can I do?
UK based, then grab your MP and make some noise. Some serious noise.
And if you are European, then grab your MEP, same for us UK folks as well. Make noise. We need to kick off about this in a big way, not simply because it impinges upon our civil freedoms and our rights to communications privacy, but because it’s in breach of democratic process of the free nations of the world.
There is information all over the web to help point you in the right direction.
My suggested starting point is right at this website here: http://www.stopacta.info/