Imagine if you were to upload a video on the internet where you’re criticizing Fox news, or you’re downloading a documentary for educational purposes. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) keeps warning you to stop what you’re doing and you continue to ignore their warnings. This results in your internet being disconnected. Well, I’d hate to break it to you, but this could be a reality thanks to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, is an international trade agreement in which several nations (which includes Canada) will have the same laws to stop counterfeiting. There are many chapters to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and one of them is the internet chapter. Because of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, internet service providers in these countries will be forced to monitor their customers’ internet activities. It was originally thought that if you were caught or merely accused of downloading or uploading anything that is copyrighted three times, than your ISP will disconnect you from the internet. However, “the treaty may not specifically require three-strikes, but it clearly encourages it as the model to qualify as a safe harbour from liability” (source). In other words, some of the countries who are involved in this ridiculous treaty may not specifically use a “three strikes and you’re out rule”, but they will use something similar. An example would be the European Union.
The Europe Union will not accept a three strikes policy in this treaty.“The ‘three-strike rule’ or graduated response systems are not compulsory in Europe. Different EU countries have different approaches, and we want to keep this flexibility.” (source) This would explain why France had its own three strikes policy before it was overturned. While Europe will not accept a three strikes policy, it’s quite possible that Canada , U.S, and any other country that’s involved in this treaty will. Either way, if these countries agree to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, then millions of people will eventually lose their internet access due to alleged copyright infringement .
As I mentioned earlier, if you are repeatedly caught or you’re merely accused of online copyright infringement (even without any evidence), then your internet will be permanently disconnected and you will not be able to take the issue to court. If you think that’s extreme, it gets worse. Because of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, border guards and airport security will search through people’s personal electronic devices (such as MP3 players, iPhones, laptops, etc) for copyrighted material. If they suspect that you’ve obtained the copyrighted material illegally, then your device will be destroyed. Does this already sound too crazy to be true? Well keep reading, because it gets crazier.
Most of the information that I’ve obtained regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement mainly comes from leaked documents. The governments who are involved in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement are doing their best to keep the details of this treaty a secret. I will post as much information about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement as I can. But in the mean time, check out some of these links:
FAQ’s on ACTA: “Similarly, provisions that would allow customs officers to go rooting through a traveller’s laptop computer of MP3 player looking for copyright-infringing files, or would allow ISPs to disclose their users’ information to copyright owners without need of a warrant, infringe consumers’ human right to privacy”
Wikipedia Article: This is probably one of the very few reliable articles that have been posted on Wikipedia.
Silicon Valley Article: “It would require signing countries to implement a more draconian version of the DMCA, including incredibly restrictive anti-circumvention wording that has no exception for fair use”. So basically, if you upload or download anything that is copyrighted, even if it falls under the guidelines of fair use, your entire household will lose internet access for a minimum of one year.
Internet Piracy Crackdown by US Studio: “Hollywood studios want to reduce internet piracy of new films, such as Disney’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ which stars Anne Hathaway.” LMAO!