In signing ACTA, President Barack Obama has again leapfrogged over the U.S. Constitution, critics charge. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was signed by the United States and several other countries on October 1 with little fanfare.
In wake of the recent uproar (and subsequent shelving) of the proposed United States’ bills SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), however, many Americans are now turning their fears toward ACTA.
This is not surprising, as critics say that ACTA would censor the Internet even more severely than either SOPA or PIPA would have done.
According to Forbes:
Few people have heard of ACTA… but the provisions in the agreement appear quite similar to – and more expansive than – anything we saw in SOPA. Worse, the agreement spans virtually all of the countries in the developed world, including all of the EU, the United States, Switzerland and Japan.And this treaty would trump all local and national laws.
Which is part of the reason critics, constitutional scholars, and one Senator is challenging Obama’s constitutional right to sign this treaty.
Obama claims that he signed it as an “executive agreement” which does not require Congressional approval. However, everyone else categorizes it as a treaty, which does require such approval.
But even if we let Obama bask in his delusion of signing an “executive agreement,” Constitutional experts say that he still does not have a right to sign it in the matter of copyright and patent laws. In fact, U.S. Constitutional scholars Jack Goldsmith and Larry Lessig said:
The president has no independent constitutional authority over intellectual property or communications policy, and there is no long historical practice of making sole executive agreements in this area. To the contrary, the Constitution gives primary authority over these matters to Congress, which it charges with making laws that regulate foreign commerce and intellectual property.Using this same argument, Senator Ron Wyden (D) from Oregon has been hammering the Obama administration for months for an explanation as to why he bypassed Congress. Finally, the administration issued a response saying, essentially, that the President could sign this treaty because it would not change U.S. law.
Wyden then requested a Congressional Research Service’s Analysis of ACTA and found that it may change U.S.law. (What a surprise). The problem with ACTA, like so many bills Obama signs, is that is is so riddled with vague language that its meaning hinges on one's interpretation.
As it stands now, I’m convinced that Obama knowingly bypassed Congress and the United States Constitution to sign a treaty that will help to destroy our First Amendment right of free speech. (Thus his "concern" over the problems with SOPA, earlier this month, was just a charade). How long are we going to let him get away with this?
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