I know that I am beginning to sound like a scratched record (for younger readers, I refer to this piece of old technology), but when I read headlines like BoingBong’s Last push to kill ACTA: act now or the Internet gets it, I get upset. And angry. Angry and upset. Like a mild Hulk I run to the keyboard to set the record straight. Perhaps I get more upset because comments like these come from people I otherwise admire, but when it comes to the campaign against ACTA, I seem to be like the lone tiny voice in the corner of a movie theatre that complains about the inaccuracy of the explosions and how Mythbusters completely debunked that a person hit by a bullet flies back. “Hey, that’s not accurate!” I protest. Yet the stories bigging up ACTA keep on coming.
ACTA is a flawed agreement, it was negotiated in secret in contravention of every principle of openness and accountability in government. The stakeholders involved were mostly the IP industries. The result is a muddled, confused and vague legal mishmash that fails to do what it originally intended. It contains several provisions that could extend punitive damages. It has ambiguities in language with regards to patents and commercial use. But it is not the greatest threat that the Internet has ever seen. And most certainly, the Internet will not “get it” if it is approved.
In fact, nothing will happen. It is right there in black and white: the Australian Standing Committee on Treaties declared that Australian law already complies with the treaty, meaning that no laws will need to be passed; the chair of the International Trade Committee (ITC) at the European Parliament has also admitted that ACTA would not change any legislation. So ACTA will actually do nothing, a treaty that changes no law has little if any legal effect. This is almost like one of those philosophical questions: “If an international treaty changes no laws, does it still exist?”
I still hope fervently that the European Parliament kills ACTA this week. There is a campaign taking place asking people to contact MEPs to ask them to vote against the treaty. I have a much more accurate talking point for them. Contact your MEP and tell them to reject ACTA because it is a useless and expensive treaty that will do nothing. It is a waste of space, a waste of time, and it should have never seen the light of day. So finish it. Kill it with fire and spread the ashes to the four winds as a warning to future policy-makers. But do it for the right reasons, not based on exaggerations and lies.
I’m now off to Facebook, someone is spreading the Back to the Future date hoax again. A skeptic’s work is never done.