Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

There is a looming disaster and it is called The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The ACTA is a treaty that is being pushed by the United States as well as the EU, Japan, and Switzerland that seeks to address intellectual property enforcement.

The agreement is being framed very similar to NAFTA but this time it deals with privacy and copyright law especially as it relates to digital content and media.

“The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that “infringes” on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.”

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.

The agreement proposes any content that may have been copied from a DVD or digital video recorder would be open for scrutiny by officials – even if the content was copied legally.(1)

The concept is difficult to grasp. Our guards will now be charged with the task of inspecting digital media for copyright violations in addition to other minor concerns like terrorism and drug smuggling. Did you notice where the determination of violation took place? In the eyes of the guard. No offense to any of our wonderful Border Patrol agents but I dare say I couldn’t think of a single person who understands the tangled web of US copyright law well enough to make that decision. Ludicrous.

In Canada, border guards already perform random searches of laptops at airports to check for child pornography. (1)

I’m all for stopping Child Pornography but this law would send us headlong into a state where those same guards would look for illegally downloaded movies, images stolen from the web, and then probably viruses. How far can the criminalization of “infoterrorism” be if we are looking for stolen Jay-Z albums. (Never mind you’re a vulnerability researcher).

I guarantee the RIAA is pouring lobbying money down bottomless pits to get this ratified. We must be convicted to take action by contacting our Government Officials (3) and telling our fellow citizens. We cannot allow this nightmare to come to pass.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” Benjamin Franklin quotes

References and Research Links:
1. Canada.com – Excellent news piece
2. IPJustice.com – Very comprehensive whitepaper on ACTA
3. EFF.com – Take action and see the legal documents associated with ACTA

Leave a Reply