Silicon Republic points out something we have been talking about here for awhile: SOPA and PIPA are bad, but ACTA is much more dangerous and is about to be ratified by countries in Europe. Several European countries including Ireland, will throw their support behind ACTA later this week, joining the US, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Canada. While the agreement (set to be the subject of a European Union Meeting) is supposed to be primarily for dealing with counterfeit physical goods, its scope and its toolset for dealing with internet distribution and information technology are too broad, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
But the biggest problem with ACTA is that there is very little known about it because most of the meetings held by countries has been kept secret on purpose. Once again the entertainment industry has managed to convince governments led by the United States - into pushing for laws and practices that do more to curtail privacy than they do to fight piracy.
Imagine an international toolset that allowed one group to censor another based on accusations of infringement. Now imagine those same tools in the hands of a government that has no qualms with stifling or even silencing the free speech of those who oppose them. That is what ACTA could end up being used for.
The EFF claims that it contains several provisions that could have a negative impact on consumers' privacy and civil liberties, and could affect legitimate commerce, innovation and the free flow of information. The agreement would once again try to give rights holders the abilities to compel ISP's to block sites that are supposedly trafficking in illegal content of some type. We have seen these kinds of tactics used in the UK , Spain and France already. The agreement would also implement a "three-strikes rule" for offenders who have been pegged as downloading copyrighted material. Once a person or website has a third offense they could be essentially barred from using the internet for a set period of time.
Most of the countries that have decided to back ACTA have gone out of their way not to release details on the agreement. Even our own government -- including congress -- is keeping ACTA's details out of the public eye.
If you have never heard of ACTA, please check out the EFF's archives on it. If you think SOPA and PIPA are bad, wait until this horrible new set of rules is implemented.