But now we have ACTA
, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement looming over our digital heads, which looks to be even worse than SOPA and PIPA.
ACTA is a multi-lateral trade agreement, which has already been signed by 31 governmental bodies worldwide (including the USA, The European Union and 22 member states, Australia, Canada and Japan.)
The agreement seeks to target counterfeit goods, generic medicines and the piracy of online copyright-protected content.
The dangers of this agreement are very real - it was first negotiated in secrecy, without any input from the public, national parliaments and policymakers. As the ACTA negotiations had a total lack of transparency, the appointed rapporteur of the agreement, Kader Arif, who is a member of the European Parliament, quit in protest.
The agreement gives the participating nations' customs authorities the right to confiscate any goods (physical or digital) that they believe are in violation of the agreement, which would include generic pharmaceutical drugs, currently essential to developing nations.
It also gives an overwhelming incentive for countries to bring in much stricter intellectual property laws to bring them into accordance with ACTA defined intellectual property laws, which could cause unprecedented limits on free speech.
In the USA, ACTA was signed as an Executive Agreement (not a treaty) by Obama, without any ratification by the Senate.
ACTA would also bring in strict policing by Internet Service Providers of their clients - if you down- or upload or share copyrighted material online, your ISP will be obligated to report this, and you could not only lose your internet connection, but could also go to jail and have huge fines imposed against you.
There are several online petitions running now - you are urged to sign as many of these as you can:
"With an incredible showing of power and belief, over 300,000 people in 72 hours called on the European Parliament to reject the rights-threatening international copyright treaty, ACTA. We’ve shone a bright light on the countries that signed this secretly negotiated agreement – but the fight to save the internet is far from over.
ACTA still needs to be approved by the European Parliament, and if it goes down there, the agreement will effectively be dead in the water. Now we invite you to join us by taking to the streets at a protest near you on Feb 11.
Check out the amazing map
showing the global day of action, and grab a friend to join a protest and make your voice heard".
A day of protest against ACTA has also been declared, on 11 February 2012.
See more detail on this website
Let's keep our internet free - millions of people could lose their online employment and originality will be stifled by such draconian laws and agreements!