ACTA, what is it, and what will it do?

There’s something brewing in international politics. Governments are seeking possibilities to limit out freedom. In the USA, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) have luckily been shot down due to popular activism to do so. Then why do these elected government officials keep looking for new ways, new bills, new names, to limit our freedom on the internet?

The newest contender is ACTA (Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). Well, it’s not fairly new, it has been introduced in Octobre of 2010. The problem with this legislation, is that it’s international. It not only affects the USA, but also Japan, Australia and Europe. Basically, the whole western world. Canada, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand and Singapore have also ratified the agreement. And so did the European Union, january 2011.

Wait, what? Why didn’t we hear about this?

The EU has signed the agreement as a whole, concerning 22 member states. But, to gain effect, it has to be ratified by at least six individual member states. If, of the 22 countries involved, less than six agree on this piece of legislation, it’ll be shot down as well.

What does ACTA, besides ‘Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement’, mean? Why is it so important for the neutrality of the net?

The purpose of ACTA is to establish international standards for property rights enforcement. It will create an international body, next to the UN or WTO, which sole task is to govern counterfeiting. This means that German farmers can’t produce cheap, knock-off Gouda-cheese anymore, for example. But, as with all legislation, it is so broad, that it can affect us all, instead of just the producers of knock-off goods. It isn’t bound by proper borders on where ACTA stops, and a state’s sovereign law begins. It could go as far as, hypothetically, me being arrested for posting a picture made by someone else.

It could also mean the end of cheap, generic medicine, needed to aid developing countries. Official drugs are generally insanely expensive, so this will mean the end for most organisations depending on monetary support, like Doctors Without Borders.

Europe will vote on ACTA around June 2012.

 

Here’s a quick video which outlines ACTA:

 

And here are some useful links:

Stop ACTA
ACTA (Wiki)

 

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