Netherlands Rejects Acta, and Forbids Any Similar Legislation

The Dutch government has decided that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) is not good for privacy or internet freedom and therefore shouldn’t be signed. In doing so, the Netherlands has opted not to wait for the EU’s vote on Acta, scheduled for June.

Not only that, however, but Dutch MPs have also ruled that the government will never sign any treaties that are similar to Acta. A motion was passed promising to reject any future treaty that might harm a “free and open” internet. Acta needs to be ratified by the European and national parliaments in order to enter into full effect.


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(Reuters) - The European Parliament rejected a global agreement against copyright theft on Wednesday, handing a victory to protesters who say the legislation would punish people for sharing films and music online.

The vote marked the culmination of a two-year battle between legislators who supported the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and it’s largely young, digitally savvy opponents.

Tens of thousands of activists held rallies across Europe in February to protest against the law, which they said would curb their freedom and allow officials to spy on their online activities. About 2.5 million signed a petition against ACTA.

European Parliament lawmakers voted against the agreement by 478 to 39 with 165 abstentions, meaning the proposed law will have to be renegotiated by the European Commission, the EU’s executive. […]


SOPA is rearing its ugly head yet again, so I go over some of the shitty facts of what it could do to damage the internet as we know it and how we can rid ourselves of it. Share and spread the word.

White House Seizes Control Of Internet

In an unprecedented step for executive power, President Obama signed an Executive Order on July 6th that allows the executive branch to seize control of all communications infrastructure in the United States, public and private:

“Without even the faintest toot of a fanfare, President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order that outlines an extreme level of communications preparedness in case of crisis or emergency, including the ability to take over any communication network, including the internet.

The Order, ‘Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions,’ takes many of the US government’s existing emergency communications preparations, and codifies the exact responsibilities of the various US secretaries/departments and intelligence agencies. For the most part, the Order is very sensible; basically, no matter what — come hurricanes, earthquakes, or nuclear war — the US government ‘must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions.’”

One can expect governments to plan for all kinds of emergencies– i.e. meteor strikes, wars, uprisings, (etc.). Several continuity plans are already in place. But if this latest executive order sounds unbelievable, then it probably should, because with the stroke of a pen, President Obama has entered America into a new paradigm.

No longer is it enough for Washington to simply use, cooperate with, or listen to private communications. Now the president claims the authority to order all of it seized– as in nationalized under federal control. In a sense, however, this sweeping new order is only somewhat unprecedented, at least in the Bush-Obama era of executive power. Potential seizure of communications infrastructure simply folds into a laundry list of resources that Obama declared authority to seize and manage in another recent Executive Order:

“On March 16th, President Obama signed a new Executive Order which expands upon a prior order issued in 1950 for Disaster Preparedness, and gives the office of the President complete control over all the resources in the United States in times of war or emergency.

The National Defense Resources Preparedness order gives the Executive Branch the power to control and allocate energy, production, transportation, food, and even water resources by decree under the auspices of national defense and national security. The order is not limited to wartime implementation, as one of the order’s functions includes the command and control of resources in peacetime determinations.”

It is troubling how little coverage and scrutiny this event is getting in the mainstream media. Agree with this new policy or not, why aren’t Americans even discussing it?

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European Parliament kills the shit out of ACTA by an overwhelming majority


Yesterday, the European Parliament voted down ACTA, sort of the European cousin to SOPA, by an overwhelming majority. With a vote of 478 to 39, detractors of the Anti-Counterfeiting and Terrorism Act waved yellow and black signs reading “Hello Democracy, Goodbye ACTA”.

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The European Parliament overwhelmingly defeated an international anti-piracy trade agreement Wednesday after concern that it would limit Internet freedom sparked street protests in cities across Europe.

The vote – 39 in favor, 478 against, with 165 abstentions – appeared to deal the death blow to the European Union’s participation in a treaty it helped negotiate, though other countries may still participate without the EU.

Supporters had maintained that ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, was needed to standardize the different national laws that protect the rights of those who produce music, movies, pharmaceuticals, fashion goods and other products that often fall victim to piracy and intellectual property theft. EU officials said, too, that protecting European ideas was essential to the economic growth the continent so badly needs.

The may be the Super Friends of the Internet: A group of prominent web companies including Mozilla, maker of the Firefox Web browser, the social news website Reddit and the blogging service WordPress have teamed up with advocacy groups and lawmakers to form the Internet Defense League (IDL), a coalition dedicated to rallying Web users against government attempts to take over or destroy the world — the world wide web, that is. And they want your help, too.

“The League is about its members fighting for the interests of the Internet,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, a co-founder of nonprofit Web freedom advocacy group Fight For the Future, which is coordinating the formation of the Internet Defense League, in a phone interview with TPM.

“This is a new 21st century battle for some of the same old basic rights like free speech, freedom to assemble, and the League is here to fight and to win and to help Web users stay engaged,” Cheng added.

To those ends, the IDL is first setting up a new Web-based alert system to allow members to warn of new legislation that they think will harm the Internet’s functioning, and is hosting launch parties Thursday night in San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, London and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

There’s a certain irony, perhaps deliberate, to the IDL’s prominent reliance on a major Hollywood tentpole film to bolster its message, as its many of its members — including Fight for the Future and Reddit — are vocally opposed to the attempts by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to get legislation passed to crack down on online piracy of movies like “The Dark Knight Rises.”

But Fight for the Future and the IDL may no longer be as opposed to each other’s advocacy work as they once were.

Asked if the MPAA or major Hollywood studios were invited to join the IDL, Cheng told TPM: “If they’re willing to play fair, then sure.”

At the same time, as the Internet has grown, it has seen more attempts by government officials, agencies and policymakers to regulate it and clamp down on its more freewheeling practices, such as file-sharing, which facilitate illegal activity. It’s these attempts that the IDL opposes.

Two such recent such instances of U.S. laws designed to crack down on online piracy specifically include the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), two bills that Congress was considering in late 2011 and early 2012. The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America supported both bills.

Wyden, Issa and Polis were all among a small group of lawmakers that opposed the bills from their onset, but they were bitterly outnumbered for a while and the bills looked poised to pass.

SOPA and PIPA abruptly lost support in Congress and were scrapped after a massive online protest by Web users and websites on January 18, in which many sites voluntarily blacked- their homepages to show the censoring effect they argued the bills could have. That protest, known as “Blackout Day,” was spearheaded by Fight For the Future and its allies.

Now those groups have formed the IDL in an effort to create a more permanent, and slightly more organized, campaign in the advent that future bills pop-up.

Part of that effort includes a new alert system: An embed code, which is a few lines of HTML text that website owners can simply copy and paste onto their pages.

h/t: Carl Franzen at TPM IdeaLab