Obama Signs Global Internet Treaty Worse Than SOPA: ACTA

White House bypasses Senate to ink agreement that could allow Chinese companies to demand ISPs remove web content in US with no legal oversight

Paul Joseph Watson
Source: Infowars.com
Thursday, January 26, 2012

Months before the debate about Internet censorship raged as SOPA and PIPA dominated the concerns of web users, President Obama signed an international treaty that would allow companies in China or any other country in the world to demand ISPs remove web content in the US with no legal oversight whatsoever.


The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was signed by Obama on October 1 2011, yet is currently the subject of a White House petition demanding Senators be forced to ratify the treaty. The White House has circumvented the necessity to have the treaty confirmed by lawmakers by presenting it an as “executive agreement,” although legal scholars have highlighted the dubious nature of this characterization.

The hacktivist group Anonymous attacked and took offline the Federal Trade Commission’s website yesterday in protest against the treaty, which was also the subject ofdemonstrations across major cities in Poland, a country set to sign the agreement today.

Under the provisions of ACTA, copyright holders will be granted sweeping direct powers to demand ISPs remove material from the Internet on a whim. Whereas ISPs normally are only forced to remove content after a court order, all legal oversight will be abolished, a precedent that will apply globally, rendering the treaty worse in its potential scope for abuse than SOPA or PIPA.

A country known for its enforcement of harsh Internet censorship policies like China could demand under the treaty that an ISP in the United States remove content or terminate a website on its server altogether. As we have seen from the enforcement of similar copyright policies in the US, websites are sometimes targeted for no justifiable reason.

The groups pushing the treaty also want to empower copyright holders with the ability to demand that users who violate intellectual property rights (with no legal process) have their Internet connections terminated, a punishment that could only ever be properly enforced by the creation of an individual Internet ID card for every web user, a system that is already in the works.

“The same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens’ Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the “Three Strikes” /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The treaty will also mandate that ISPs disclose personal user information to the copyright holder, while providing authorities across the globe with broader powers to search laptops and Internet-capable devices at border checkpoints.

In presenting ACTA as an “international agreement” rather than a treaty, the Obama administration managed to circumvent the legislative process and avoid having to get Senate approval, a method questioned by Senator Wyden.

“That said, even if Obama has declared ACTA an executive agreement (while those in Europe insist that it’s a binding treaty), there is a very real Constitutional question here: can it actually be an executive agreement?” asks TechDirt. “The law is clear that the only things that can be covered by executive agreements are things that involve items that are solely under the President’s mandate. That is, you can’t sign an executive agreement that impacts the things Congress has control over. But here’s the thing: intellectual property, in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, is an issue given to Congress, not the President. Thus, there’s a pretty strong argument that the president legally cannot sign any intellectual property agreements as an executive agreement and, instead, must submit them to the Senate.”.

26 European Union member states along with the EU itself are set to sign the treaty at a ceremony today in Tokyo. Other countries wishing to sign the agreement have until May 2013 to do so.

Critics are urging those concerned about Obama’s decision to sign the document with no legislative oversight to demand the Senate be forced to ratify the treaty.

Advertisements

To Control the Opposition, Control Free Speech: new OBama Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to threaten the Net

Will Google, Amazon, and Facebook Black Out the Net?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anti-SOPA pop-up banners online protest a law that many argue will dramatically alter the Internet.

In the growing battle for the future of the Web, some of the biggest sites online — Google, Facebook, and other tech stalwarts — are considering a coordinated blackout of their sites, some of the web’s most popular destinations.

No Google searches. No Facebook updates. No Tweets. No Amazon.com shopping. Nothing.

The action would be a dramatic response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill backed by the motion picture and recording industries that is intended to eliminate theft online once and for all. HR 3261 would require ISPs to block access to sites that infringe on copyrights — but how exactly it does that has many up in arms. The creators of some of the web’s biggest sites argue it could instead dramatically restrict law-abiding U.S. companies — and reshape the web as we know it.

A blackout would be drastic. And though the details of exactly how it would work are unclear, it’s already under consideration, according to Markham Erickson, the executive director of NetCoalition, a trade association that includes the likes of Google, PayPal, Yahoo, and Twitter.

“Mozilla had a blackout day and Wikipedia has talked about something similar,” Erickson told FoxNews.com, calling this kind of operation unprecedented.

“A number of companies have had discussions about that,” he said.

With the Senate debating the SOPA legislation at the end of January, it looks as if the tech industry’s top dogs are finally adding bite to their bark, something CNET called “the nuclear option.”

“When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA,” Declan McCullagh wrote, “you’ll know they’re finally serious.”

“This type of thing doesn’t happen because companies typically don’t want to put their users in that position,” Erickson explained. “The difference is that these bills so fundamentally change the way the Internet works. People need to understand the effect this special-interest legislation will have on those who use the Internet.”

The polarizing movement has many critics but also equally strong and diverse support, including most major media companies as well as businesses like 3M, Adidas, Burberry, CVS and more. News Corp., the parent company of FoxNews.com, also supports the law.

“SOPA targets foreign websites that sell counterfeit drugs and stolen copies of Hollywood movies — not such American Web sites as YouTube or your favorite blog,” wrote Richard Bennett, senior research fellow at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, in an editorial in the New York Post.

The law is necessary to deal with those sites, he said.

“Internet criminals selling bogus drugs or pirated movies simply set up shop in China or a distant island republic, knowing that they won’t be harassed by law enforcement regardless of how many U.S. lives or jobs they endanger.”

But opposition to the legislation has grown substantially louder in recent weeks as the vote looms.

On November 15, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, eBay, Mozilla, Yahoo, AOL, and LinkedIn wrote a letter to Washington warning of SOPA’s dangers. “We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity,” the letter argued

Google co-founder Sergey Brin himself has loudly denounced the bill. “While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don’t believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world,” Brin wrote on Google+ social networking site earlier this month.

Others have taken a more proactive approach, voting with their dollars against those who support the bill. GoDaddy.com, one of the largest domain registrars on the Internet, stands to potentially lose thousands of customers on Thursday, Dec. 29, or “Dump GoDaddy Day,” the culmination of an ongoing boycott of the company.

Microblogging site Tumblr generated 87,834 calls to Congress with its own anti-SOPA campaign — a total of 1,293 total hours spent talking to representatives.

Hollywood and the recording industry have maintained the bill’s necessity in the name of piracy. “Rogue Web sites that steal America’s innovative and creative products attract more than 53 billion visits a year and threaten more than 19 million American jobs,” the U.S. Chambers of Commerce wrote in a letter to the editor of The New York Times.

But Erickson believes this is “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of response.”

“People take the Internet very personally,” Erickson told FoxNews.com. “It’s a very important part of their lives.”

(Source: FoxNews)