Blogging ITU: Internet Users Will Be Ignored Again if Flawed ITU Proposals Gain Traction
Posted in: Governance at 05/08/2012 14:45
When the European Parliament rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement after hundreds of thousands of Europeans took to the streets in protest, it signaled disappointment in some of the extreme IP policies encouraged by ACTA that threatened the functioning of the Internet. But at the same time, the protests reflected a sweeping rejection of the secretive, government-directed process that spawned the agreement in the first place. The world's Internet users showed that they are no longer willing to accept outdated and counterproductive policies born out of closeted discussions that fail to take into account the interests of ordinary people.
Trade agreements including ACTA, TPP and free trade agreements between the United States and its trading partners (FTAs), tend to be bad news for international policy. Trade agreements are typically premised on high stakes tradeoffs and competing government agendas. Trade agreements impose mandatory obligations that require signatories to transfer provisions into domestic law. This global obligation-based system can have the effect of binding governments to inflexible, long-term rules that manifest as a drag on the fast-paced environment of online innovation. For instance, since 2002 the U.S. has signed several bilateral free trade agreements compelling trading partners to rewrite their IP laws based on the flawed U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As a result, U.S. trading partners, including many developing nations, have adopted lopsided legal copyright regimes that do not serve the best interests of their citizens. While business interests usually feature prominently into trade negotiations, the interests of Internet users and many developing nations are rarely granted the same level of consideration. In the case of ACTA, both civil society and many developing nations were intentionally excluded from these negotiations.
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