Act Now by Saying ‘No’ to ACTA

Tomorrow in Europe, the protest posters and banners will state it clearly: “Say YES to an Open Internet by Voting ‘NO’ on ACTA.”  For those who aren’t aware, ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that is entering its final vote in the European Union’s parliament.

What’s the big deal? Unless it is voted down, online privacy as we know it will cease to exist. For those of us who enjoy small conveniences like free speech and an open internet, and not being arrested for sharing information we have learned online, ACTA presents a significant civil liberties hurdle. ACTA is so broad in its interpretation that  even things that appear to have nothing to do with the internet, such as trading generic drugs in developing nations, are impacted.  ACTA’s threat is derived from its ability to invade the privacy of internet users by allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to issue fines (or press charges to send violators to jail) if the activities they monitor lead to the discovery of downloaded licensed content.

Here’s a brief explanation of ACTA and its impact:

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The Obama administration entered into the ACTA treaty during October 2011. Since then critics have opposed and challenged the President’s signing of this treaty by way of an “executive agreement” based on both constitutional grounds and the provisions of the treaty.  ACTA is noted be to more stringent than SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act — which was about copyrighted material) in that ACTA, if ratified, will supercede all national laws of the member countries — which includes the EU in its entirety and most of the developed world’s nations. It will put into effect the most sweeping anti-privacy laws since it would, under the guise of protecting all internet content, allow ISPs to go into ‘full monitor’ mode.

At this time, people from over 100 countries have signed a petition calling on the International Telecommunication Union to both (a) reject any proposal that would serve to limit open access to the internet and (b) make the process by which decisions about the treaty are being made as, to date, this global treaty has been crafted in nearly complete secrecy. Without the voices of those who use the internet and its contents, there’s a chance that this invasive treaty could be passed, thereby adversely affecting the economies of  developing nations and the privacy of ordinary citizens around the world.

For more information and to sign the global petition and Declaration of Internet Freedom, visit Access Now.

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Image credit: MNHopkinsBlog



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