Mozilla

ACTA is a Bad Way to Develop Internet Policy

February 10th, 2012

ACTA (“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”) is a proposed new international law establishing international enforcement standards against counterfeit goods and pirated intellectual property items. ACTA was negotiated as a “trade agreement” which means that it was negotiated in private without open involvement of all the stakeholders. There has been no formal opportunity for input from people other than those who were lucky enough to be invited into the private discussions.

This is a bad way to build Internet policy. The Internet is a fundamental platform for communication and interaction. There are many stakeholders. The voices of human empowerment, human rights, and competing economic interests must be heard. These voices must have a place at the table when policy is debated. ACTA was not created through such a process.

Here are some examples of of how closed the ACTA negotiation process has been:

ACTA is extremely controversial. That controversy has become focused in the last couple of weeks as net-savvy citizens across Europe have made their deep concerns known.

One aspect of the controversy about ACTA is the closed process where only a tiny subset of people affected by the law were allowed to participate. Another great controversy is about the actual content of ACTA. We know that the goal of stopping unauthorized access to digital content can lead to very dangerous results. The proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation in the U.S made this abundantly clear. This is an area where even good intentions can lead to imbalanced and dangerous results.

European citizens are now evaluating how ACTA language affects life in their jurisdictions. Deep concerns are developing. These are exacerbated by the fact that the discussions over the content of ACTA are procedurally closed, and the involvement permitted to citizens is a “yes” or “no” response from their representatives. The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on whether or not to ratify ACTA sometime later this year, perhaps as early as June.

Building a healthy Internet takes all of us. It cannot be left to private, invitation-only process that excludes most of us. Some  links for more information are below, and there is a great deal more information available. Please consider learning more and making your voice heard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement

http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number10.1/whats-wrong-with-ACTA

http://rfc.act-on-acta.eu/fundamental-rights

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28 comments for “ACTA is a Bad Way to Develop Internet Policy”

  1. 1

    glandium said on February 10th, 2012 at 9:57 am:

    ACTA is what you get when you try to address all kinds of counterfeiting in the same way, be it fake Vuitton bags or movies downloaded on megaupload.

  2. 2

    Pingback from ACTA is a Bad Way to Develop Internet Policy | The Mozilla Blog

    [...] her thoughts on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement proposal. Below is an excerpt from her blog: ACTA (“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”) is a proposed new international law establishing [...]

  3. 3

    A. Rebentisch said on February 10th, 2012 at 10:09 am:

    Thanks. I follow ACTA for ~4 years and remember the 26 June 2008 stakeholder meeting at the Commission. Most lobbyists were upset because they don’t get paid for results from a black box process but for contributing to a process. The greatest mystery to me is why they didn’t include industrial and business espionage. Doesn’t make any sense.

  4. 4

    marcoos said on February 10th, 2012 at 10:14 am:

    A small correction: it was not “15,000 people on the streets of Poland”. 15,000 people is the number of anti-ACTA demonstrators in _just one_ city (Kraków, Lesser Poland). There were demonstrations against ACTA in every major city in the whole country (and even in some smaller ones, too).

  5. 5

    Pingback from ACTA – Proteste in Europa | The secret garden

    [...] http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2012/02/10/acta-is-a-bad-way-to-develop-internet-policy/ [...]

  6. 6

    John Laity said on February 12th, 2012 at 4:15 am:

    Patent, Copyright and Trade Mark law is already complex enough to navigate and difficult to enforce…

    We have moved beyond the information age and are now building new civilisations and communities online. The opportunity is to approach Internet regulation as we have done in some of our best moments: UN, UNESCO, Red Cross, etc.

    I am minded that when explorers and scientists opened up the frontier of Antarctica, the World signed a treaty gifting the continent to all of us. Now all countries comply with the Antarctic Treaty, which places scientific endeavour and protection of the environment before commercial gain. No country may place military bases in Antarctica and although rich in oil and minerals, it remains protected from commercial exploitation.

    Similar ideals could apply to our digital frontier, but unfortunately it came into being because of it’s commercial possibilities. This doesn’t have to stop us though. Unlike a country we are able to shape the digital world in our coding.

    If you want to stop Internet copying, develop code to top it…not laws. Virus filled files are left well alone on torrent sites.

  7. 7

    Pingback from Mozilla Slovenija

    [...] Prevod bloga Mitchel Baker – z manjšimi dopolnitvami, fec smo [...]

  8. 8

    smo said on February 12th, 2012 at 8:16 am:

    Pingback http://mozilla.si/?p=826 (translation of the above blog)

  9. 9

    Pingback from Porque a Mozilla se preocupa com o ACTA « Comunidade Mozilla Brasil

    [...] queríamos nos certificar de que vocês viram o blog post da Mitchell sobre o assunto, bem como um grupo que está sendo formado [...]

  10. 10

    Larry Peterson said on February 15th, 2012 at 10:56 am:

    Why does this surprise anyone? I am sure that you will still be able to get the information that you want as long as you pay for it. Remember the Wall St. and economic international meltdown and its cause? Companies making billions still wanting more. It all boiled down to greed. Some think that is over simplified,but as you look at it, there can be no other reason. People never have enough money. Nothing is worse than greedy people who can control anything-but are willing to release what they control for more money, and what can we do to stop these people? I have no answer. History was made on the backs of the people that couldn’t pay, and their struggle for freedom. It looks like the wallet is, once again, the solution. Mine is almost empty-so I will have to be content with what little they will offer. Greed-see if I am right.

  11. 11

    Pingback from Head of Mozilla Says ACTA Is ‘A Bad Way To Develop Internet Policy’ | Daily Hacking News

    [...] has now written another, entitled “ACTA is a Bad Way To Develop Internet Policy“, which explicitly links ACTA and [...]

  12. 12

    Pingback from Head of Mozilla Says ACTA Is ‘A Bad Way To Develop Internet Policy’ « waweru.net

    [...] by Mitchell Baker, the Chair of the Mozilla Foundation. Baker has now written another, entitled "ACTA is a Bad Way To Develop Internet Policy", which explicitly links ACTA and SOPA/PIPA: One aspect of the controversy about ACTA is the closed [...]

  13. 13

    GeraldRobinson said on February 16th, 2012 at 5:28 pm:

    ACTA was written by the RIAA and MPAA in the US not by any rel international negotiation. When the US failed to sign ACTA (Obama signing it as an Executive order is not binding and an illegal cause fr impeachment) and it started to look like the EU would take at least 5 years to ratify it if they did so—RIAA/MPAA came up with PIPA and SOPA and bribed congress to pass them.

    Now we have an even worse follow on the TPP treaty written by the same wonderful folks who brought you ACTA/SPOA/PIPA and negotiated in secret—any doubt that its even more horrid. According to one leak a provision of the TPP will limit the use of generics (instead of patented drugs) by 3rd world countries to communicable . So you live in Nigeria and have high BP, Cancer, Arthritis, … tough luck!

    The problem with ACTA is that it is overly broad and vague. It also includes a mandatory 3 strikes rule with no due process or appeal. The supporters say that it will not require change to any existing laws but they lie. It is supposed to only apply to organizations in the business of wholesale copyright violation or counterfeiting, but it is so vaguely written that it applies to individuals.

    These all have the same problem—today its almost impossible to say what is under copyright and who the holder is. They all need to be changed so that they only apply to nationally registered copyrights and only the holder of the copyright can exercise any action. They also need to require due process and allow damages to be assessed for phony or erroneous claims.

  14. 14

    peterbosch – The flying Dutchman said on February 19th, 2012 at 2:38 pm:

    Please read : http://torrentfreak.com/dutch-parliament-rejects-acta-on-human-rights-violations-120214/
    I’m a Platinum member of Web Of Trust ( and from Holland ).

  15. 15

    Pingback from Links 21/2/2012: HijackThis Becomes Open Source, LibrePlanet 2012 is Coming | Techrights

    [...] ACTA is a Bad Way to Develop Internet Policy ACTA (“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”) is a proposed new international law establishing international enforcement standards against counterfeit goods and pirated intellectual property items. ACTA was negotiated as a “trade agreement” which means that it was negotiated in private without open involvement of all the stakeholders. There has been no formal opportunity for input from people other than those who were lucky enough to be invited into the private discussions. Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  16. 16

    Pingback from Mozillians on ACTA – stream of bytes

    [...] line of subtle balance that we aim for with our hybrid nature. I’m particularly proud to read Mitchell’s words and also journalists commenting on our statement in a way like the following: Essential statement [...]

  17. 17

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  18. 18

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  19. 19

    memurlar said on March 18th, 2012 at 9:43 am:

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  20. 20

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  21. 21

    avrupa sohbet said on March 18th, 2012 at 9:44 am:

    international law establishing international enforcement standards against counterfeit goods and pirated intellectual property items

  22. 22

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  23. 23

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  24. 24

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  25. 25

    Pingback from Mozilla and Privacy | Beyond the Code

    [...] public debate on proposed legislation like SOPA & PIPA, proposed international agreements like ACTA,  and most recently [...]

  26. 26

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  27. 27

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  28. 28

    Arif said on June 25th, 2012 at 1:03 am:

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