Issa Opens Secretive Intellectual Property “Treaty” to the Public Worse Than SOPA & PIPA, ACTA Excluded Both American People and Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) today opened the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the American people and all stakeholders who were excluded during the development of the intellectual property (IP) enforcement agreement. ACTA was negotiated in secret by the Bush and Obama Administrations and attempts to regulate the Internet with potentially serious consequences for consumer privacy, ecommerce and digital innovation. Worse, ACTA appears to be an unconstitutional power grab begun by the Executive Branch to bypass Congress’ Constitutional authority over international commerce and intellectual property rights protections.
“ACTA represents as great a threat to an open Internet as SOPA and PIPA and was drafted with even less transparency and input from digital citizens,” Issa said. “This agreement was negotiated in secret and many of its vague provisions would clearly increase economic uncertainty, while imposing onerous new regulations on job creators, Internet service providers, innovators and individual Americans. As we have learned from the OPEN Act, opening ACTA to taxpayers and stakeholders in Madison will help gather crucial input, while delivering the transparency they deserve.”
ACTA negotiations began in 2007, with the Obama Administration signing the agreement on October 1, 2011 along with Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Morocco. Now, the Administration is moving forward with implementation – despite both the White House’s January 14, 2012 criticism of IP legislation that would harm the internet and erode individual rights and Vice President Joe Biden’s vocal opposition to this kind of unconstitutional Executive Branch overreach under a previous Administration.
Core problems with ACTA include:
- No Transparency: ACTA is a multilateral intellectual property agreement that was negotiated in secret, excluding American taxpayers and key stakeholders who would be impacted by it. Despite the fact that ACTA has huge implications for the public, until now few steps have been taken to give the public input into this process.
- Circumvents Congress & the Constitution: While ACTA carries several provisions that directly affect U.S. trade and intellectual property law, the Bush and Obama Administrations appear to have violated Congress’ constitutional authority over policymaking in these areas. Adding insult to constitutional injury, the Administration refuses to even classify ACTA as a treaty, which would then require ratification by the U.S. Senate. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) raised these troubling issues in an October 12, 2011 letter to President Obama.
- Vague & Far-Reaching: Like its domestic counterparts SOPA and PIPA, much of ACTA is vague, with consequences for individuals and stakeholders that could reach far beyond the agreement’s original intent. ACTA also contains no safeguards against wrongful cases of intellectual property rights infringement.