Magazine article New Internationalist

Act against ACTA

Magazine article New Internationalist

Act against ACTA

Article excerpt

26 APRIL

WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DAY

If, as multi-millionaire business magnate Mark Getty famously claimed, 'intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century', then the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) smacks of a covert operation in a new war. An operation whose purpose is to benefit corporate power. The whole thing has been negotiated in secret between rich countries in a policy-laundering scheme designed to avoid the meddlesome interference of democratic debate, transparency or dissent.

On the face of it, ACTA addresses some rather dull and technical areas of international trade. But if it comes into force it will require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to spy on their customers, introduce the potential for internet censorship at the behest of the 'entertainment' industry, and threaten the access of people in the Majority World to life-saving generic medicines.

The provisions within the agreement are similar to the recent SOPA/PIPA legislation proposed in the US and dropped (in its current form) after the unprecedented internet blackout of 18 January, when Wikipedia closed down for the day and thousands of other sites blacked out parts of their content to highlight the dangers of introducing defacto powers of online censorship with no due process. In some ways, ACTA goes even further, 'imposing a 19th-century view of intellectual property (IP) that fails to acknowledge the changed relationship between individuals and information in the modern electronic age,' says campaigning group Article 19. …

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