Over the past few weeks I have been hearing (reading) a lot of concerns, expressed by many, regarding the United States participation in the ACTA agreement. For those who may not be aware of this agreement ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement that the State Department is currently negotiating with the World Trade Organization. This agreement, between 10 nations and the EU, would standardize the International Copyright and Trademark laws and provide a framework for all member nations to investigate and prosecute copyright and trademark infringement in both digital and hard goods.
The most common complaints about this agreement center around it's secrecy during negotiations and the provisions it might contain concerning internet freedom and internet privacy. So, in my never ending search for truth, justice and the American way... I read the whole ACTA draft that was recently published by the WTO... All 36 mind-numbing pages of it... and here is what it REALLY says.
1: The Government of each member nation is free to decide how ACTA will be implemented and enforced in their country with regard to that country's laws and existing treaties. The agreement does not dictate how this is to be done and in fact, in very specific language, it protects the sovereignty of each nation with regard to privacy laws and it's citizens.
2: Each member nation is obligated to provide/publish procedures for investigation, enforcement, and litigation of offenses to the international community, as well as provide procedures to limit abuse by Government that meet the Minimum Standards of the agreement.
3: Each member nation will develop procedures, and assign a responsible agency, for seizure and destruction of counterfeit goods.
4: Each member nation will require Internet Service Providers to implement policies that prevent the illegal storage and transmission of Copyrighted and Trademarked Intellectual Properties over the Internet and Remove or Disable protected materials upon notice from the proper authorities. The "Three Strikes" rule that would ban a person from the internet permanently after three complaints to the ISP has been removed.
5: The Internet Service Provider will provide Identity Information to the Copyright or Trademark Holder for civil prosecution and to the proper authorities for criminal prosecution in accordance with national laws concerning rights to privacy.
From what I see in this agreement the concern shouldn't be about ACTA. We should be concerned with the laws OUR GOVERNMENT will enact to implement, enforce, and prosecute this agreement after it is ratified...which it totally up to them...AND US!