Oppose Dangerous Global Internet Treaty

By:  Ann Shibler
Oppose Dangerous Global Internet Treaty

Congress should reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) signed by President Obama on October 1, 2011.

In the annals of President Obama’s short reign, many have learned to expect the unexpected. New and innovative processes combined with unconstitutional initiatives are helping the Obama Administration serve its political agenda. Topping the list just might be the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a treaty signed by President Obama on October 1, 2011, and now presented to the American public and Congress as an “executive agreement.”

Although containing many confusing rules and regulations that even the international signers don’t exactly understand, ACTA is basically an international trade agreement or global pact to protect private interests and copyright holders.  Like the name implies, though, ACTA combines counterfeiting and piracy, which of course are two very different things.

Under ACTA, copyright holders could demand that their intellectual property rights were violated and Internet connections could be terminated for suspects without due process. Even a country like China could demand that an Internet service provider (ISP) in the U.S. be forced to remove content or the website shutdown. In addition, much broader power to search laptops and other devices at global checkpoints would be initiated. It is an Internet censorship measure that would penalize those who innocently share a newspaper article or upload a video with copyrighted music.

But most alarming is the nefarious way in which the legislative process has been circumvented.

While most have never heard of the term “executive agreement,” it has been used quite liberally since the dawn of the 20th century.  Most often executive agreements are used in relation to foreign policy. Both FDR and Truman made secret executive agreements at Cairo, Yalta, and Potsdam that greatly impacted the entire world. The bombing of Cambodia and Laos were secret arrangements that also came under the executive agreement label.

Often the ploy is to sign on to international agreements, then force Congress to approve the agreements by resolution in order to meet “international obligations,” that were solidified in secret and without open debate.  And that seems to be the case with Obama and ACTA. It’s also an easy way to hide draconian legislation inside these trade agreements which the public routinely turns a blind eye to. With ACTA, Obama could achieve what the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) couldn’t, and that is legitimize dangerous and sweeping intellectual property regulations that would give our government and international governments the keys to the Internet.

Forcing implementation of ACTA is an attempt by Obama to bind the entire nation to international regulations that only Congress is empowered to authorize. Intellectual property and copyright laws are the concern of Congress, so its members should be hopping mad that their role has once again been usurped by the White House. Allowing an executive agreement to trump constitutionally authorized legislative powers is a dangerous precedent and should be challenged and resisted.

Contact your Senators and Representative and tell them to assert the legislative powers they have been granted by the Constitution by rejecting ACTA and this blatant extension of the Executive Branch’s power. Let them know that they should never support legislation in favor of ACTA, or pass it as a treaty. Right now it seems the only Senator who understands the gravity of the situation is Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) who sent a letter to President Obama on the subject back in 2011 wherein Wyden points out the lack of congressional approval for ACTA.

In a preemptive strike, also warn your congressional representatives of the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that is the sequel to ACTA.  The TPP is currently being negotiated by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) with Pacific Rim countries. The Obama Administration’s transparency policy for TPP “does not involve any commitments to sharing the text with the general public.”  Instead only member countries and the USTR advisory board know the contents of this secret pact that is said to subject whole countries to “fines” for non-compliance.

This is not how Americans should have regulations imposed upon them.  Preserve the Internet from global control and censorship by helping to stop ACTA and the TPP now!

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