February 21, 2012

NOW HOW ABOUT AMERICA? How the European Internet Rose Up Against ACTA.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland sent a letter to his fellow leaders in the EU Friday urging them to reject ACTA, reversing Poland’s course with the controversial intellectual-property treaty, and possibly taking Europe with them.

“I was wrong,” Tusk explained to a news conference, confessing his government had acted recklessly with a legal regime that wasn’t right for the 21st century. The reversal came after Tusk’s own strong statements in support of ACTA and condemnation of Anonymous attacks on Polish government sites, and weeks of street protest in Poland and across Europe.

The seeming overnight success came after both years of work by European NGOs, and the spark of the SOPA/PIPA protests in America (which included Wired.com).

ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is an international treaty that was negotiated in secret over the span of four years. While the provisions are currently public, their genesis was hidden from democratic scrutiny, and most nations signed on to ACTA without any chance for their citizenry to review or comment on the process. Beyond its undemocratic origins, it’s often unclear how ACTA’s requirements would be implemented, or could be implemented without creating a technical architecture online that restricts speech. For instance, ACTA’s harsh DMCA-like provisions against anti-circumvention could effectively render some free software, which by its nature can’t support DRM, illegal in the Western world.

A cynic would suspect that was much of its purpose. How about making this a campaign issue?

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