Category: Blog (page 2 of 2)

Reclaim Democracy, Defeat ACTA

As Europe erupts in protest following protests in Poland at the opaque and undemocratic accession to ACTA, Australians have been asking, what can we do?

La Quadrature ACTA Campaign Image

 

Australia continues to be part of the so called ‘Coalition of the Willing’, aiming to circumvent international fora in order to cement a more rigid and expansive enforcement regime like the one imposed in the AUSFTA, across the globe.

Treaty making and accession is largely the job of government, there is no constitutional requirement for parliamentary oversight, although as the document explains, the 1996 reforms went a little way to providing at least some parliamentary scrutiny. This really doesn’t help, because at the most formative stages, where it is imperative that the concerns of the public are included, diplomatic secrecy is still very much the default. Whilst insisting that openness, transparency, inclusiveness are paramount, these are generally empty platitudes. There are perhaps sensitive moments where some confidentiality is necessary for diplomats to be candid (and even this is debatable in the dawning of the transparent society) the negotiation and development of a copyright treaty, is not one of those moments. ACTA may begin to raise awareness of the relationship between the people and their government more broadly, and how the two interact and the levels of secrecy and information withheld from them.

At the very least, ACTA is where we must draw the line and reject the circumvention of democracy. It was only due to successive leaks and pressure brought to bear on governments and diplomats by NGOs, academics and political parties that ACTA became a shadow of its monstrous first drafts.

DFAT, however, continues to say “ACTA doesn’t mean any change for Australia”, but it does. It cements bad laws that DFAT allowed the US to impose on Australia via the AUSFTA, and when a belligerent industry is desperately clinging to it, something must be up.

In Australia, ACTA is currently under review by the Joint Senate Committee. It has been signed, but binding action has not been taken. Although the date for submissions have passed, you may still be able sneak a submission if the Committee Secretariat allow it, but otherwise, target the members of the Committee. All Australian citizens that are willing to act can let them know. Write to them. Tweet them. Call their office. Engage with them. Let them know, that you as an Australian citizen, do not stand for policy laundering and the circumvention of democracy by corporate interests. Any opposition we generate, fuels the fight in the EU. Reclaim democracy.

 

Australia’s Last Chance to Defeat ACTA

This article has been published at the ABC.

Today we saw thousands take to the streets in Poland in what has become an ongoing protest, the European Parliament’s rapporteur of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement resign in disgust at the ACTA charade, the exclusionary and opaque process. We also saw the passing of what is possibly the last opportunity for Australians to stop the ACTA agreement cementing the expansive changes to laws in Australia imposed via the Australian United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).

There is some debate as to whether there will be any substantive change for Australia, i.e. are we going to have to change our laws? It certainly cements the already draconian laws we have, providing an environment for stricter enforcement and for an expansion of an already bad system, but that is not the biggest issue with ACTA.

The biggest issue is the secrecy in which the agreement was forged. The exclusion of civil society, consumer and civil liberties groups in formative stages, where a belligerent industry intent on disingenuously conflating issues like file sharing with counterfeiting were given open and unfettered access.

ACTA is an example of legislative negligence and a total disregard for evidence in policy making in Australia. Despite the Productivity Commission proclaiming that Australia should be seeking to exclude IP from bilateral and regional trade negotiations because of the obviously damaging changes to Australian law imposed by the AUSFTA, here is DFAT negotiating an agreement that entrenches those bad laws, just as it continues to include those bad laws in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). When queried, there is no study or economic assessment that supports the expansion or stricter enforcement of copyright and patents in Australia, except of course for untrustworthy industry research, manufactured to elicit legislative change by deception.

These sentiments, and others, were expressed in the Pirate Party’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. Although the due date has passed, Committee Secretaries are usually more than willing to accept late submissions. Make noise.

 

Props should go to @OlbrychtPalmer, @piecritic and @akfru for their work in the submission.

Letting in the sunlight…

The following documents were received from the Attorney-General’s Department under the Freedom of Information Act (1982). They pertain to a secret meeting between copyright industry lobbyists and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Much of this information has not been previously made publicly available. All information made accessible to me is now publicly available.

Analysis will follow in time. Those that know, understand my current personal situation precludes me from committing time to commenting and analysing the issue. For all comments, I’d recommend contacting Pirate Party Australia as I am informed they will now analyse the documents.

UPDATE: Renai Le May at Delimiter  has quickly picked up on one of the central themes of the documents – consumers were and continue to be excluded from the process. This exclusionary approach is standard practice for the Attorney-General’s Department.

UPDATE 2: Mozart has come straight to the point — what does transparency and open government look like in modern Australia?

UPDATE 3: Michael Lee at ZDNet has a good summary of the issues and themes within the released documents.

 

Blog Safely With Pirate.is

The Washington Pirate Party has launched ‘pirate.is‘ a blogging service not unlike any other, based on WordPress, with one important distinction — it takes advantage of the legal framework and protections provided by the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative by being hosted in Iceland, that provides:

 

 

— Whistle-blower protection
— Source protection
— Source-journalist communications protection
— Limiting prior restraint
— Protection of intermediaries (ISPs)
— Protection from “libel tourism” and other extrajudicial abuses
— Statute of limitations on publishing liabilities
— Process protections

This framework is something that almost all Pirate Parties, including ours, advocate at a national level.

Blog back up

Finally have my blog back up. Have been so busy with work and party matters, I haven’t had the chance to remake this after it was all lost – oh well, there wasn’t too much here.

I can probably find drafts and put them back up in time. Hope to make contribution to this blog a little more regular.

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