Hey all, it’s been a while. Lots of stuff to do and not so much time to blog these days, but this one is definitely important enough to merit the effort. If you’re looking for one of my quasi-funny, tongue-in-cheek posts, check out the Third and 7 archives. This one is serious. Nonetheless, you should take the time to read it, and hopefully take action afterwards.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA for short) must be stopped. I say this in all earnest, as a believer in freedom and equality for all citizens of the Earth, and as a believer in the Constitution of the United States of America and our Bill of Rights (that’s the first ten amendments to the Constitution, in case you forgot your high school Civics class). Here, in brief (brief for me, anyway), is why:
Government-sponsored, corporate censorship of the internet not only violates our First Amendment Rights, it opens the door to a dangerous precedent that any citizen of a free and independent nation should greatly fear. ACTA essentially gives Big Business an internationally-approved “blank check” to prosecute ISPs and website domain hosts for the actions of a few unscrupulous users. This threat of multi-million dollar lawsuits and/or criminal prosecution in turn forces the ISPs/hosts to censor sites and cave to unconstitutional requests for private user data, all in the interest of “combating piracy”. This is a grave threat to individual liberty and national sovereignty and must be stopped.
ACTA is unquestionably a tool for multi-million dollar, international corporations to protect their “rights” (a.k.a. profits). This is shown in no uncertain terms by the following quotation:
“Apart from the participating governments, an advisory committee of large US-based multinational corporations was consulted on the content of the draft treaty, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the International Intellectual Property Alliance (which includes the Business Software Alliance, Motion Picture Association of America, and Recording Industry Association of America).”
– Wikipedia.org – visit the original ACTA article for the individual sources
By ratifying ACTA into an international treaty, the governments of the world are effectively allowing these corporations to circumvent the laws of individual nations. In other words, they can completely disregard the US Constitution and due process when going after alleged “pirates”. The fact that our supposedly “free and independent” government would sign such a treaty proves just how much control these multi-national corporations and their SuperPACs truly have.
Social media and internet journalism are two major factors that enabled the oppressed majority to overthrow their totalitarian shackles in the Arab Spring last year. If we, as a free people, give up the freedom of the internet in order to protect the special interests of Big Business, we open the door to an unprecedented (in this country) level of totalitarianism. We are, essentially, throwing away our ability to decide if and when our government, supposedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, has become “destructive of [Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness].” Our Founding Fathers proclaimed these “certain unalienable rights” to be self-evident, and in the Constitution free speech is entrusted to us as one of the most important tools by which we ensure those rights aren’t infringed by an increasingly totalitarian government. The justification behind this thinking is laid out in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, specifically in this passage:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
– The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
Indeed, the entire point of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is to prevent the government set up by the Continental Congress from one day becoming another “King George”; they wanted to protect their investment, as it were. We, the people, are that investment, and Big Business has no right to take that away from us in the interest of protecting their own status quo, or for any other reason. If we freely give Big Business the power to influence our government and skew all the rules in their favor, we cease to have a free, elective democracy as well as a truly free market economy, two of the corner stones this nation was founded upon.
The internet itself is an extension of this basic freedom. What will become of it (and our voice) if Big Business is given the wherewithal by our government to indiscriminately censor, prosecute, and persecute anything or anyone it perceives as being counter to its interests – interests which, as we’ve seen time and again, go against the basic rights and freedoms of the American people, and the vast majority of the (dare I say it?) “99%” the world over.