Senators Urge for Public Viewing of ACTA Text

U.S. Senators Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have penned a letter that implores the government to make public the proposals behind the ultra-secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

The letter (PDF here), dated November 23, was addressed to Ron Kirk, The U.S. Trade Representative. In the correspondence, the duo notes that they are “concerned” that President Obama’s previous stress of the importance of transparency, public participation and collaboration in government were not being applied to ACTA negotiations.

From the letter:

The ACTA involves dozens if not hundreds of substantive aspects of intellectual property law and its enforcement, including those that have nothing to do with counterfeiting… There are concerns about the impact of ACTA on privacy and civil rights of individuals, on the supply of products under the first sale doctrine, on the markets for legitimate generic medicines, and on consumers and innovation in general.

Sanders and Brown added that they were “surprised and unpersuaded” by claims that the information concerning the negotiations present a risk to the national security of the U.S. and that the public “has a right to monitor and express informed views on proposals of such magnitude.”

The Senators further stated that the secrecy of ACTA has “undermined” public confidence and attempts to tie this to a point made by Dan Glickman, CEO of the Motion Picture Association (MPAA). Unfortunately, in a letter supporting ACTA, Glickman wrote, “Outcries on the lack of transparency in the ACTA negotiations are a distraction. They distract from the substance and the ambition of ACTA which are to work with key trading partners to combat piracy and counterfeiting across the global marketplace."

Another letter supporting ACTA, sent on November 19, was signed by the likes of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), NBC Universal, News Corp., The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, Inc., Universal Music Group, Viacom Inc. and Warner Music Group.

Update: A European Commission examination of ACTA’s Internet chapter has leaked and can be viewed online here (PDF). Michael Geist gives it a going over here. Worth noting: it appears the U.S. proposal contains a three-strikes policy, similar to one enacted in France and proposed for the UK.

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