SOPA – PIPA – ACTA: Nothing less than a disaster

Those of you who read these lines have probably heard of SOPA, PIPA or ACTA. You use the Internet, you read blogs or perhaps you are even a blogger yourself! In this case you might have an idea of what consequences and implications the regulations behind these acronyms would have once they are in place. But my guess is that  too many people don’t know it.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, US House of Representatives) and the Protect IP Agreement (PIPA, US Senate) were envisaged to be adopted only a few days ago. However, massive online protests prompted parliamentarians in US congress not to vote on it (this doesn’t mean that it won’t loom on the horizon once again).

Currently the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement is a further try to ban content from the Internet which is suspected of violating copyright laws. This agreement is heavily criticized by NGOs, bloggers, and Internet users. In contrast to SOPA and PIPA, ACTA wouldn’t be a national law. Instead it is a transnational agreement between countries like the US, Japan and the EU countries. This is why Forbes says: If You Thought SOPA Was Bad, Just Wait Until You Meet ACTA. Here is a good overview of what ACTA really means:

For me the most scandalous aspect of ACTA is not its content. I think that we need a copyright that is adjusted to our digital times. Banning all content that is disagreeable for someone can’t be accepted. But to be honest, I don’t know every detail of how ACTA would affect my everyday experience as an Internet user though I guess it won’t make it easier. The biggest problem with ACTA ist that it was negotiated secretely. The negotiations started back in 2008. But it was only a few weeks ago that I heard of it the first time. Furthermore, it wasn’t elected representatives who negotiated the agreement. What about public consultation? What about balancing the needs and wishes of content producers and consumers (if it is possible at all to draw these lines)? No, nothing like this had happened.

The United States have initiated (besides Brazil) the Open Government Partnership which aims at making governance more transparent and responsive. How can this be aligned with an agreement like ACTA? There are even tech bloggers who don’t know all the details of ACTA. Ask ordinary citizens what they think of ACTA and you will notice that the vast majority has no idea what it is.

If countries that support initiatives like the Open Government Partnership sign ACTA (which is unknown to so many people) this is nothing less than a disaster.