Rebecca from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "The U.S. government is still blocking the release of information about a secret intellectual property trade agreement with broad implications for privacy and innovation around the world, despite the Obama administration's promises to run a more open government. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) could establish far-reaching customs regulations over Internet traffic in the guise of anti-counterfeiting measures, but no one knows for sure the state of this pact, as the government is hiding the details. EFF is calling on the feds to change their minds, and will keep fighting this in court."
EFF and Public Knowledge filed suit in September of 2008, demanding that background documents on ACTA be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Initially, USTR released 159 pages of information about ACTA and withheld more than 1300 additional pages, claiming they implicate national security or reveal the USTR's "deliberative process." After reconsidering the release under the Obama administration's new transparency policies, the USTR disclosed the additional pages last week, most of which contain no substantive information.
However, one of the documents implies that treaty negotiators are zeroing in on Internet regulation. A discussion of the challenges for the pact includes "the speed and ease of digital reproductions" and "the growing importance of the Internet as a means of distribution."
Other publicly available information shows that the treaty could establish far-reaching customs regulations over Internet traffic in the guise of anti-counterfeiting measures. Additionally, multi-national IP industry companies have publicly requested that ISPs be required to engage in filtering of their customers' Internet communications for potentially copyright-infringing material, force mandatory disclosure of personal information about alleged copyright infringers, and adopt "Three Strikes" policies requiring ISPs to automatically terminate customers' Internet access upon a repeat allegation of copyright infringement.
The European Union is in the final stage of deciding on net neutrality, and as it stands their proposal contains major loopholes that threaten the open Internet in Europe and around the world. BEREC, the EU regulator, is holding a final public comment period that will end on July 18.
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