Google Founder: Internet Freedom Under Greatest Threat Ever

Threats range from governments trying to control citizens to the rise of Facebook and Apple-style ‘walled gardens’.


The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world”. “I am more worried than I have been in the past,” he said. “It’s scary.”

The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry’s attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of “restrictive” walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.

The 38-year-old billionaire, whose family fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union, was widely regarded as having been the driving force behind Google’s partial pullout from China in 2010 over concerns about censorship and cyber-attacks. He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong. “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle,” he said.

He said he was most concerned by the efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the internet, but warned that the rise of Facebook and Apple, which have their own proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risked stifling innovation and balkanising the web.

“There’s a lot to be lost,” he said. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.”

Brin’s criticism of Facebook is likely to be controversial, with the social network approaching an estimated $100bn (£64bn) flotation. Google’s upstart rival has seen explosive growth: it has signed up half of Americans with computer access and more than 800 million members worldwide.

Brin said he and co-founder Larry Page would not have been able to create Google if the internet was dominated by Facebook. “You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive,” he said. “The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation.”

He criticised Facebook for not making it easy for users to switch their data to other services. “Facebook has been sucking down Gmail contacts for many years,” he said.

Brin’s comments come on the first day of a week-long Guardian investigation of the intensifying battle for control of the internet being fought across the globe between governments, companies, military strategists, activists and hackers.

From the attempts made by Hollywood to push through legislation allowing pirate websites to be shut down, to the British government’s plans to monitor social media and web use, the ethos of openness championed by the pioneers of the internet and worldwide web is being challenged on a number of fronts.

In China, which now has more internet users than any other country, the government recently introduced new “real identity” rules in a bid to tame the boisterous microblogging scene. In Russia, there are powerful calls to rein in a blogosphere blamed for fomenting a wave of anti-Vladimir Putin protests. It has been reported that Iran is planning to introduce a sealed “national internet” from this summer.

Ricken Patel, co-founder of Avaaz, the 14 million-strong online activist network which has been providing communication equipment and training to Syrian activists, echoed Brin’s warning: “We’ve seen a massive attack on the freedom of the web. Governments are realising the power of this medium to organise people and they are trying to clamp down across the world, not just in places like China and North Korea; we’re seeing bills in the United States, in Italy, all across the world.”

Writing in the Guardian on Monday, outspoken Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei says the Chinese government’s attempts to control the internet will ultimately be doomed to failure. “In the long run,” he says, “they must understand it’s not possible for them to control the internet unless they shut it off – and they can’t live with the consequences of that.”

Amid mounting concern over the militarisation of the internet and claims – denied by Beijing – that China has mounted numerous cyber-attacks on US military and corporate targets, he said it would be hugely difficult for any government to defend its online “territory”.

“If you compare the internet to the physical world, there really aren’t any walls between countries,” he said. “If Canada wanted to send tanks into the US there is nothing stopping them and it’s the same on the internet. It’s hopeless to try to control the internet.”

He reserved his harshest words for the entertainment industry, which he said was “shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot” by lobbying for legislation to block sites offering pirate material.

He said the Sopa and Pipa bills championed by the film and music industries would have led to the US using the same technology and approach it criticised China and Iran for using. The entertainment industry failed to appreciate people would continue to download pirated content as long as it was easier to acquire and use than legitimately obtained material, he said.

“I haven’t tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like; it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work – and then when you have to jump through all these hoops [to buy legitimate content], the walls created are disincentives for people to buy,” he said.

Brin acknowledged that some people were anxious about the amount of their data that was now in the reach of US authorities because it sits on Google’s servers. He said the company was periodically forced to hand over data and sometimes prevented by legal restrictions from even notifying users that it had done so.

He said: “We push back a lot; we are able to turn down a lot of these requests. We do everything possible to protect the data. If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great. If we could be in some magical jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, that would be great … We’re doing it as well as can be done.”

Ireland Passes SOPA-like Bill

Russia Today
March 1. 2012

Ireland has signed a controversial amendment dubbed the “Irish SOPA” which reinforces existing copyright law amid widespread concern that it will encroach on Internet freedom.

The new legislation will effectively allow copyright holders to press for legal action against Internet service providers and social networks which show content that infringes copyright legislation. It will force Internet service providers to effectively become censors, by blocking access to these sites.

Irish Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock said that the amendments, signed on Thursday, were more limited than the original proposal after a European court ruled that Internet service providers could not be “proactive” censoring sites.

Sherlock’s statement did not address the controversy surrounding the new law. Instead, he called for “all interested parties to focus now on making Ireland a model of international best practice for innovation, and ensuring that our copyright laws facilitate the achievement of this goal.”

The new law has been a bone of contention over the past month, with protests being held across Ireland and an Internet petition opposing the legislation gathering over 80,000 signatories.

Hacktivist group Anonymous also targeted the Irish government when the amendments were announced at the end of January, breaking into Department of Justice and Department of Finance websites.

“This legislation subverts the democratic process, favors the special interests of corporations over the rights of individual citizens, will destroy the largest growth sector in the Irish economy, and will subject the citizens of Ireland to unwarranted and unintended censorship,”  reads the declaration on the official petition website against the “Irish SOPA”.

America’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), aiming at fighting online piracy, were halted in the US Congress following widespread criticism and protests by the online community.

In a similar development, the EU suspended the ratification of its controversial ACTA legislation, whose proposed powers are similar to its American analogues. The move followed days of resistance, including street rallies, against what has been labeled an undemocratic bill.

European Union Suspends ACTA Ratification

February 22, 2012

The EU has suspended the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and referred the text to the European Court of Justice to investigate possible rights breaches.

The European Commission decided on Wednesday to ask the EU’s top court “to clarify that the ACTA agreement and its implementation must be fully compatible with freedom of expression and freedom of the internet.”

The ACTA debate “must be based upon facts and not upon the misinformation or rumor that has dominated social media sites and blogs,” says EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Guch. The EU will not ratify the international treaty until the court delivers its ruling, he added.

De Guch insists the treaty will change nothing in the bloc, but help protect the creative economy.

European countries were quick to sign US- and Japan-lobbied ACTA agreement in Tokyo just a month ago. Ratification of the controversial agreement, however, is not going so smoothly.

ACTA faced fierce opposition by the Europeans, who saw it as an anti-democratic move. People took their anger to the streets in a synchronized protest, saying it violates their rights. About 200 cities participated in an anti-ACTA march on February 11.

The initial goal authorities pursued was to protect intellectual property and copyright, but human rights activists fought to prove its bias in favor of those in power. They argue it violates freedom of expression on the internet and allows unprecedented control of people’s personal information and privacy.

Some critics have been saying ACTA is a somewhat-disguised SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act).

ACTA has so far been signed by the EU as a bloc, 22 EU members as individual states, and also by the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea and some other countries. The total number of signatories to the treaty is 31.

The European Parliament is set to vote on ACTA in June. In parallel, the accord has to be ratified by all the 27 EU member states. Germany, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Estonia and Slovakia have not put individual signatures under the treaty as such and, in the wake of the mass anti-ACTA protests in Europe, are not eager to proceed with it. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Latvia suspended the ratification process, while Poland on the second thought refused to ratify the accord all together.

Wednesday’s decision means ACTA’s ratification in the EU could be delayed for months.

Twitter Admits it’s Censoring Messages

“This is a good thing for freedom of expression, transparency and accountability,” says Twitter Council Alexander Macgilliviray

January 28, 2012

Twitter, a tool of choice for dissidents and activists around the world, found itself the target of global outrage Friday after unveiling plans to allow country-specific censorship of tweets that might break local laws.

It was a stunning role reversal for a youthful company that prides itself in promoting unfettered expression, 140 characters at a time. Twitter insisted its commitment to free speech remains firm, and sought to explain the nuances of its policy, while critics – in a barrage of tweets – proposed a Twitter boycott and demanded that the censorship initiative be scrapped.

“This is very bad news,” tweeted Egyptian activist Mahmoud Salem, who operates under the name Sandmonkey. Later, he wrote, “Is it safe to say that (hash)Twitter is selling us out?”

In China, where activists have embraced Twitter even though it’s blocked inside the country, artist and activist Ai Weiwei tweeted in response to the news: “If Twitter censors, I’ll stop tweeting.”

One often-relayed tweet bore the headline of a Forbes magazine technology blog item: “Twitter Commits Social Suicide”

San Francisco-based Twitter, founded in 2006, depicted the new system as a step forward. Previously, when Twitter erased a tweet, it vanished throughout the world. Under the new policy, a tweet breaking a law in one country can be taken down there and still be seen elsewhere.

Twitter said it will post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is removed and will post the removal requests it receives from governments, companies and individuals at the website

The critics are jumping to the wrong conclusions, said Alexander Macgilliviray, Twitter’s general counsel.

“This is a good thing for freedom of expression, transparency and accountability,” he said. “This launch is about us keeping content up whenever we can and to be extremely transparent with the world when we don’t. I would hope people realize our philosophy hasn’t changed.”

Some defenders of Internet free expression came to Twitter’s defense.

“Twitter is being pilloried for being honest about something that all Internet platforms have to wrestle with,” said Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “As long as this censorship happens in a secret way, we’re all losers.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland credited Twitter with being upfront about the potential for censorship and said some other companies are not as forthright.

As for whether the new policy would be harmful, Nuland said that wouldn’t be known until after it’s implemented.

Reporters Without Borders, which advocates globally for press freedom, sent a letter to Twitter’s executive chairman, Jack Dorsey, urging that the censorship policy be ditched immediately.

“By finally choosing to align itself with the censors, Twitter is depriving cyberdissidents in repressive countries of a crucial tool for information and organization,” the letter said. “Twitter’s position that freedom of expression is interpreted differently from country to country is unacceptable.”

Reporters Without Borders noted that Twitter was earning praise from free-speech advocates a year ago for enabling Egyptian dissidents to continue tweeting after the Internet was disconnected.

“We are very disappointed by this U-turn now,” it said.

Twitter said it has no plans to remove tweets unless it receives a request from government officials, companies or another outside party that believes the message is illegal. No message will be removed until an internal review determines there is a legal problem, according to Macgilliviray.

“It’s a thing of last resort,” he said. “The first thing we do is we try to make sure content doesn’t get withheld anywhere. But if we feel like we have to withhold it, then we are transparent and we will withhold it narrowly.”

Macgilliviray said the new policy has nothing to do with a recent $300 million investment by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Mac or any other financial contribution.

In its brief existence, Twitter has established itself as one of the world’s most powerful megaphones. Streams of tweets have played pivotal roles in political protests throughout the world, including the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States and the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia and Syria.

Indeed, many of the tweets calling for a boycott of Twitter on Saturday – using the hashtag (hash)TwitterBlackout – came from the Middle East.

“This decision is really worrying,” said Larbi Hilali, a pro-democracy blogger and tweeter from Morocco. “If it is applied, there will be a Twitter for democratic countries and a Twitter for the others.”

In Cuba, opposition blogger Yoani Sanchez said she would protest Saturday with a one-day personal boycott of Twitter.

“Twitter will remove messages at the request of governments,” she tweeted. “It is we citizens who will end up losing with these new rules … .”

In the wake of the announcement, cyberspace was abuzz with suggestions for how any future country-specific censorship could be circumvented. Some Twitter users said this could be done by employing tips from Twitter’s own help center to alter one’s “Country” setting. Other Twitter users were skeptical that this would work.

While Twitter has embraced its role as a catalyst for free speech, it also wants to expand its audience from about 100 million active users now to more than 1 billion. Doing so may require it to engage with more governments and possibly to face more pressure to censor tweets; if it defies a law in a country where it has employees, those people could be arrested.

Theoretically, such arrests could occur even in democracies – for example, if a tweet violated Britain’s strict libel laws or the prohibitions in France and Germany against certain pro-Nazi expressions.

“It’s a tough problem that a company faces once they branch out beyond one set of offices in California into that big bad world out there,” said Rebecca MacKinnon of Global Voices Online, an international network of bloggers and citizen journalists. “We’ll have to see how it plays out – how it is and isn’t used.”

MacKinnon said some other major social networks already employ geo-filtering along the lines of Twitter’s new policy – blocking content in a specific jurisdiction for legal reasons while making it available elsewhere.

Many of the critics assailing the new policy suggested that it was devised as part of a long-term plan for Twitter to enter China, where its service is currently blocked.

China’s Communist Party remains highly sensitive to any organized challenge to its rule and responded sharply to the Arab Spring, cracking down last year after calls for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China. Many Chinese nonetheless find ways around the so-called Great Firewall that has blocked social networking sites such as Facebook.

Google for several years agreed to censor its search results in China to gain better access to the country’s vast population, but stopped that practice two years after engaging in a high-profile showdown with Chain’s government. Google now routes its Chinese search results through Hong Kong, where the censorship rules are less restrictive.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt declined to comment on Twitter’s action and instead limited his comments to his own company.

“I can assure you we will apply our universally tough principles against censorship on all Google products,” he told reporters in Davos, Switzerland.

Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said it was a matter of trying to adhere to different local laws.

“I think what they (Twitter officials) are wrestling with is what all of us wrestle with – and everyone wants to focus on China, but it is actually a global issue – which is laws in these different countries vary,” Drummond said.

“Americans tend to think copyright is a real bad problem, so we have to regulate that on the Internet. In France and Germany, they care about Nazis’ issues and so forth,” he added. “In China, there are other issues that we call censorship. And so how you respect all the laws or follow all the laws to the extent you think they should be followed while still allowing people to get the content elsewhere?”

Craig Newman, a New York lawyer and former journalist who has advised Internet companies on censorship issues, said Twitter’s new policy and the subsequent backlash are both understandable, given the difficult ethical issues at stake.

On one hand, he said, Twitter could put its employees in peril if it was deemed to be breaking local laws.

“On the other hand, Twitter has become this huge social force and people view it as some sort of digital town square, where people can say whatever they want,” he said. “Twitter could have taken a stand and refused to enter any countries with the most restrictive laws against free speech.”

Obama Ratifies the ACTA Global Internet Censorship Agreement

by Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
January 26, 2012

In another example of how little Barack Obama cares about the United States Constitution and the role of Congress -as bad as it can be- the current U.S. president ratified the  Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA. President Obama had signed the first binding draft of ACTA last October 1, 2011, also in secret.

As we reported yesterday, ACTA is much more dangerous than SOPA, PIPA or OPEN, because it is the accord that legalizes internet censorship on a global basis. That is why presidents around the planet have received an signed the agreement without any review from their congresses or the people. This globally reaching agreement is often equalled to NAFTA or CAFTA because it standardizes the policies that will govern information trade, just as the other agreements define the rules of the circulation of goods and services between the United States and partner nations.

Read our in-depth report below:

While most of the attention regarding government censorship of the Internet has been focused on the United States due to the imminent passage of the SOPA, PIPA and OPEN bills, those pieces of legislation are mostly bound to affect Americans. As we have reported previously, bills like the ones mentioned above have the power to literally disconnect the United States from the rest of the world, should the President decide illegal content from anywhere outside the country violates copyright law or any other law for that matter. As explained by Joe Lieberman, the United States president will have the power to shut down portions of the Internet in order to protect corporate intellectual property. This power has been labeled the Internet “kill switch”; and with good reason, because in reality, the president will be able to shut Americans’ access to anything he doesn’t want them to see.

But the threat of Internet censorship is larger than what happens to Americans. The creation and passage of bills like SOPA or PIPA in other developed countries has grown exponentially as the United States and the European Union support censorship measures. Not only have other countries managed to come up with similar legislation, but many first world nations have already signed a global agreement that will surrender the Internet sovereignty to multinational corporations and internet service providers that will be in charge of monitoring Internet user activity in order to censor anything deemed as an illegal transfer of information.

Enter ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This globally reaching agreement could be equalled to NAFTA or CAFTA in the sense that it will control the transfer of products which in this case is not bananas, electronics, services and so on, but any and all information that is posted and sought on the World Wide Web. ACTA has been known publicly since 2008, but it has been in the works -in private- for much longer. In just three years, countries like the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea have already agreed to follow the regulations contained in it.

In one sense, ACTA is the globalists’ threat to the people’s fundamental right to access information and knowledge. The main issue with ACTA is that as in many other cases, only a few people know what exactly is in it. This very first global bill intended to censor the internet was created in secret. This secrecy has prompted privacy supporters to denounce ACTA as a dangerous piece of legislation. The reason for this is that ACTA was not properly reviewed by the Congresses and what legislators receive to read is an executive summary that only mentions the reach the bill has regarding copyright protection, but leaves out the other parts. More on this to come.

“ACTA is legislation laundering on an international level of what would be very difficult to get through most Parliaments,” said Stravros Lambrinidis, Member of European Parliament. That is what the makers of ACTA would want people to believe. The impossibility of passing this agreement in Congresses around the world is one of the shenanigans globalists use more often to have the people let their guard down. But even if it was true that most countries would not sign it, the fact that all developed nations agree with and sign ACTA will be enough to twist the arm of those countries that choose not to sign it. Other private property defenders have expressed their concern with the way ACTA is presented and approved. ” The European Parliament has had no representation in ACTA negotiations. Just accepting or rejecting an agreement is not an exercise of democracy as under the Lisbon Treaty,” said Zuzana Roithova, Member of European Parliament. She refers to the passage of the infamous Lisbon Treaty which was rammed through against the will of at least 51 percent of the people.

“It is extremely regrettable that democratic debate has been eliminated from talks that could have a major impact on such a fundamental freedom as free expression,” said Reporters without Borders, European Parliament Sakharov Prize Winners. “We can only assume that the final text could do great harm in developing countries and undermine the balance between the protection of intellectual property and the need to provide affordable medicines for poor people,” added Rohit Malpani, OXFAM, from a press release criticising possible impact of ACTA. “We are in danger of ending up with the worst of both worlds, pushing IP rules, which are very effective at stopping access to life-saving drugs but are very bad at stopping or preventing fake drugs,” warns Michelle Childs of Médecins Sans Frontières.

What does ACTA have to do with medications or medical attention? A lot as it turns out. Among all of the things ACTA will help control is the free circulation of medical information. Parts of ACTA mirror legislation introduced in the United States, which could ban the publication of health oriented websites. ACTA will oversee issues such as generic drugs and food patents. Once it is fully agreed upon, ACTA will enforce other globalist sponsored agreements such as Agenda 21, Codex Alimentarius and the individual government censorship bills already in place in each country, which as people may suspect are ACTA compliant. The enforcement of identically produced global legislation will put an end to independent local farming, which will turn everyone into patent-owning corporations dependent slaves. Remember Monsanto’s motto? Just as it happened with NAFTA, CAFTA, the creation of the European Union and the United Nations, the United States Federal Reserve and others, ACTA is the latest example of how corporations make use of governments, write laws and make sure that corporate-controlled Congresses around the world mandate its implementation. In two words, Corporate Fascism.

Although ACTA is being presented as a tool “to create new legal standards of intellectual property enforcement, as well as increased international cooperation, an example of which would be an increase in information sharing between signatory countries’ law enforcement agencies,” the truth is that it is an effort to further centralized Internet control. With ACTA IPS’s will be obligated to use invasive procedures to make sure no user infringes what corporations say is a violation of copyright laws. Failure to detect and denounce such breach will result in the IP and Internet user receiving massive fines, and after three warnings, individuals who are considered repetitive offenders will be sent to jail and banned from the Internet. The IP that fails to stop the supposed violation of corporate interests will be taken off the air. The outrageous part of this is that the party -corporation- whose property was supposedly used without permission doesn’t even have to prove that the user or the IP violated its intellectual property. It is enough to make three accusations.

As it has happened in most countries that signed ACTA, in the United States the President has issued an executive order to keep negotiations concerning Internet control legislation secret. Barack Obama has cited national security concerns. According to Michael Gist’s blog, as well as leaked documents from the agreement, the ACTA global legislation has seven main sections:

Paragraph 1 – General obligations. These focus on “effective enforcement procedures” with expeditious remedies that deter further infringement.  The wording is similar to TRIPs Article 41, however, the EU notes that unlike the international treaty provisions, there is no statement that procedures shall be fair, equitable, and/or proportionate.  In other words, it seeks to remove some of the balance in the earlier treaties.

Paragraph 2 – Third party liability.  The third party liability provisions focus on copyright, though the EU notes that it could (should) be extended to trademark and perhaps other IP infringement.  The goal of this section is to create an international minimum harmonization regarding the issue of what is called in some Member States “contributory copyright infringement”.  The U.S. proposal would include “inducement” into the standard, something established in the U.S. Grokster case, but not found in many other countries.  This would result in a huge change in domestic law in many countries (including Canada) as the EU notes it goes beyond current eu law.

Paragraph 3 – Limitations on 3rd Party Liability.  This section spells out how an ISP may qualify for a safe harbour from the liability established in the earlier section.  These include an exemption for technical processes such as caching.  As reported earlier, ACTA would establish a required notice-and-takedown system, which goes beyond Canadian law (and beyond current EU law).  Moreover, ACTA clearly envisions opening the door to a three-strikes and you’re out model, as the EU document states: EU understands that footnote 6 provides for an example of a reasonable policy to address the unauthorized storage or transmission of protected materials. However, the issue of termination of subscriptions and accounts has been subject to much debate in several Member States. Furthermore, the issue of whether a subscription or an account may be terminated without prior court decision is still subject to negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Telecoms Ministers regarding the Telecoms Package.

Paragraph 4 – Anti-circumvention Provisions.  ACTA would require civil and criminal penalties associated with anti-circumvention provisions (legal protection for digital locks).  The EU notes that this goes beyond the requirements of the WIPO Internet treaties and beyond current EU law which “leaves a reasonable margin of discretion to Member States.”  The EU also notes that there is no link between the anti-circumvention provisions and copyright exceptions.  The U.S. proposal also requires the anti-circumvention provisions to apply to TPMs that merely protect access to a work (rather than reproduction or making available).   This would again go beyond current EU law to include protection against circumventing technologies like region coding on DVDs.  From a Canadian perspective, none of this is currently domestic law.  As previously speculated, the clear intent is to establish a Global DMCA.

Paragraph 5 – Civil and Criminal Enforcement of Anti-Circumvention.  This section requires both civil and criminal provisions for the anti-circumvention rules, something not found in the WIPO Internet treaties. The anti-circumvention provisions are also designed to stop countries from establishing interoperability requirements (ie. the ability for consumers to play purchased music on different devices).  The EU notes that this not consistent with its law, which states “Compatibility and interoperability of the different systems should be encouraged.”  Of course, might reasonable ask why such a provision is even in ACTA.

Paragraph 6 – Rights Management Information protection. This section includes similar criminal and civil requirements for rights management information.

Paragraph 7 – Limitations to Rights Management Information protection. In summary, the EU analysis confirms the earlier leak (though the Internet chapter has seven sections, rather than five).  The fears about the U.S. intent with respect to ACTA are confirmed - extending the WIPO Internet treaties, creating a Global DMCA, promoting a three-strikes and you’re out model, even stopping efforts to create interoperability mandates.  ACTA would render current Canadian copyright law virtually unrecognizable as the required changes go far beyond our current rules (and even those contemplated in prior reform bills).  This begs the question of whether the Department of Foreign Affairs negotiation mandate letter really goes this far given the domestic changes that would be required.  This latest leak also reinforces the need for all governments to come clean – releasing both the ACTA text and government analysis of the treaty should be a condition of any further participation in the talks.

If you don’t find any of these sections shocking, by all means read the full version -as far as we know- of the ACTA agreement here. And remember, this is what we know so far. There is probably more than double the details in the parts that have not been revealed or leaked. You can also read the comments on the US proposal on the Requirements to Enforce Intellectual Property Rights, as they now like to call worldwide Internet censorship.

As it happened with pieces of legislation brought up to Congress in the US, ACTA is very dangerous due to the vague way in which many of its rules are written. Vague laws usually mean wide-open interpretations that fit most cases under the same umbrella. In other words, accusations can be made up on the go, because the rules can be interpreted as the corporations and the governments desire. Governments can implement limitless ways to enforce what is so vaguely written.

Although respecting private property is an ideal goal, in this case, people cannot afford to let the medicine be worse than the disease. Remember, this is a movement organized by global corporations who are demanding that their ownership of mostly digital products be respected while violating our individual right to have a free, uncensored Internet. I would suggest readers to call Congress wherever in the world they are, but as it turns out, most congressmen and congreswomen are bought and paid for by the same big corporations that are behind ACTA. Encourage your ISP and other Internet service companies in your country to unite and say no to ACTA the same way some companies came together against SOPA and PIPA a few days ago. It is only the strength of individuals united to fight ACTA what will prevent the spread of corporate control of the Internet. If you live in country where ACTA has been already adopted, it is not too late to act. Organize and request that this globalist-sponsored takeover of the Internet be repealed.

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