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Thursday, June 7, 2012

ACTA in America and Europe

ACTA is an international treaty meant to enforce existing copyright legislation on a broader scale. The agreement itself is regarded by many as an offense to people’s democratic rights, because it bypasses all existing laws related to your privacy online, while lacking any meaningful input from national parliaments or their citizens.

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Last October, U.S. Trade Ambassador signed the treaty during a ceremony in Tokyo. Since 2008, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office has been trying to convince the people that the treaty was initially negotiated as a “sole executive agreement” under the President’s power to conclude agreements over issues delegated to the President which won’t need the Congress’ review or approval. However, this kind of thinking was criticized by famous U.S. Constitutional Law professors and the Electronic Frontier Foundation on several occasions. In addition, Senator Ron Wyden also raised a number of problems in his letter to the President. He pointed out that the statement by the U.S. Trade Ambassador actually confuses the issue by conflating two separate steps of the process needed for binding the United States to international agreements, the first of them being entry, and the second – implementation. Although it may be possible for the country to enforce the treaty, once validly entered, without legislation, if it doesn’t imply any change in U.S. law, the ACTA’s executive branch still doesn’t have constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement that covers issues being delegated by the Constitution to Congress’ authority, absent congressional approval.

If the agreement is regarded as a treaty, it would need the approval of 2/3 of the Senate to be ratified. A suggestion to negotiate the treaty as a sole executive agreement can be regarded as an act of abusing power.

This February the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the county’s State Department, seeking a copy of the “Circular 175” memorandum for the treaty, and the accompanying Memo of Law, which generally includes a discussion and justification of the designation of the suggested agreement.

Taking all this into account, you should understand that ACTA is still a matter of huge importance for both America and other European countries involved into negotiations.

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