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Anti-Piracy Law: UK Postpone Again Until 2014

The provisions of UK’s anti-piracy law (under the island’s Digital Economy Act) have been postponed again until 2014. The “three strike” graduate response system was designed to cut off repeat copyright infringers and file-sharers.

Among the measures included within the three-strikes system, we find broadband limitations, but it is only applied as a final solution for extreme offenders. Ofcom, the Kingdom’s communication regulator, had said in a previous statement that it would start sending out notification letters to file-sharers starting with the middle of 2013.

In the meantime, UK’s most prestigious broadband providers TalkTalk and BT intervened, arguing that the law was breaching European laws unsuccessfully. Furthermore, the UK government had faced criticism after questions were raised in a Parliamentary committee pertaining to the evidence for the bill.

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ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) Reject ACTA

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament have just announced that they will reject the controversial treaty called ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). “Although we unambiguously support the protection of intellectual property rights, we also champion fundamental rights and freedoms. We have serious concerns that ACTA does not strike the right balance,” announced Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader.

“Civil society has been extremely vocal in recent months in raising their legitimate concerns on the ACTA agreement which we share. There are too many provisions lacking clarity and certainty as to the way they would be implemented in practice,” Verhofstadt noted. “Furthermore, ACTA wrongly bundles together too many different types of IPR enforcement under the same umbrella, treating physical goods and digital services in the same way,” said Verhofstadt. “We believe they should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, and following a comprehensive and democratically debated mandate and impact assessment.”

“A right balance between the fight against intellectual property infringements and the rights to privacy and data protection must be respected. It appears that ACTA has not been fully successful in this respect.”

In a February announcement, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said that following discussion with fellow Commissioners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The plan was to ask the ECJ to look at ACTA and decide if it conflicts with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and right to privacy.

The European Committee is due to vote on whether to approve ACTA in June,

“If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.”

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CISPA; A Backdoor Bill For SOPA / PIPA?

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a United States proposed law introduced on November 30, 2011 by U.S. Representative Michael Rogers (R-MI) and 29 co-sponsors (Companies).

The bill would give the U.S. government additional options and resources to ensure the security of networks against attacks and enforce copyright and patents. The bill was reported out of committee on December 1, 2011 and has yet to be debated or brought to a vote.

This controversial bill is already widely criticised by advocates of Internet privacy and neutrality, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Avaaz.org, because it contains few limits on how and when the U.S. Government may monitor private information, and because few safeguards are included as to how the data may be used; they claim that such new powers are likely to be used to find and punish file sharers rather than foreign spies or hackers.

AVAAZ is committed to stopping any and all censorship of the internet. In their own words, “Help Save The Internet From The U.S”. If you would like to show your support and stop the CISTA bill. you can by completing their petition HERE. Avaaz sees the bill as a threat against “Our democracy and civil liberties from the excessive and unnecessary Internet surveillance powers it grants. The Internet is a crucial tool for people around the world to exchange ideas and work collectively to build the world we all want”.

Congress is set to act on Cyber-Security legislation that has been making its way through committees in both chambers for several years. The House is set to vote on these bills during the week of April 23, dubbed “Cybersecurity Week.” The Senate will take action soon after.

A lot of important work has gone into these bills that are intended to strengthen both the government and civilian response to cyber threats. This in theory is an amicable notion. Yet parts of these bills are alarming because, if passed, any information we put online, work, play, personal and sensitive could be put at risk.

The broad language means there is no explicit restriction about the type of information being shared between government and companies, so long as it could somehow be linked to cyber-threats. That’s very worrisome on privacy grounds, since it makes it easier for companies to hand over any information the government asks for and not worry about getting sued.

Under Rogers, once your personal information is in the hands of the government it can be used for any national security purpose, including to track patterns of communications to decide whether to seek authorization to wiretap you. It can be used to prosecute you for any crime.

So why is the House leadership trumpeting the Rogers bill and why are so many companies lining up to support it?

For companies, the answer is easy: there is freedom to share information with whatever entity they please, blanket immunity for sharing, blanket immunity for a recipient of shared cyber-security information who fails to take protective measures even when they are clearly needed, and no regulatory burdens are imposed.

For House leadership, the answer seems to be that it is not listening to Internet users.

Perhaps it’s time for us to shout our objections more loudly?”

A number of companies and groups dear to our web hearts support these bills including – Microsoft, IBM, AT&T, Facebook, and Verizon – you can find a full list that support CISPA HERE. And it’s co-sponsors can be found HERE.

The bill describes cyber threat as a “vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from either ‘efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network;’ or ‘theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.'”.

How would this play out in the real world? As Government Computer News reported, “Companies and government agencies alike are using tools to sweep the Internet–blogs, websites, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter feeds–to find out what people are saying about, well, just about anything.” Maybe even The Zuphorian.

“Not surprisingly,” GCN’s Patrick Marshall wrote, “intelligence agencies have already been looking at social media as a source of information. The Homeland Security Department has been analyzing traffic on social networks for at least the past three years.”

Due to the opposition the bill has experienced, the co-sponsors are planning to amend the bill to address many of the concerns of its opponents – including limiting its use to a more limited definition of cyber-threats, and stating that the “theft of intellectual property” refers to the theft of research and development. In addition, there will now be penalties if private companies or the government uses data from CISPA for purposes “unrelated to cyberthreats.”

Do you agree or disagree with CISPA? Do you believe the internet has too many monitoring bodies? What views on this article? all comments either for or against the points raised within this artlcle are welcome.

Resources For This Article;

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June Deadline; To approve or disapprove ACTA.

” The European Parliament’s international trade committee has rejected a proposal by David Martin, an MEP who is drafting the Parliament’s position on ACTA. Martin wanted to ask the European Court of Justice for its opinion on the controversial anti-piracy treaty, but the committee decided yesterday that wasn’t needed and will now vote in June on whether to approve ACTA. Opponents of the treaty see the development as a victory.

In a February announcement, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said that following discussion with fellow Commissioners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The treaty, which is aimed at harmonizing global copyright enforcement globally, has largely been formulated behind closed doors and its critics fear it will only lead to censorship and surveillance of Internet users.

The plan was to ask the ECJ to look at ACTA and decide if it conflicts with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and right to privacy.

Separately, David Martin, a UK MEP who is drafting the Parliament’s position on ACTA, made a proposal to put ACTA before the European Court of Justice to get its opinion, but the committee decided yesterday that wasn’t needed and will now vote in June on whether to approve ACTA.

The European Parliament’s trade committee rejected the plan with 21 MEPs voting against, 5 in favor and 2 abstention. This means that ACTA could now be put before Parliament in a matter of months. Had ACTA been immediately referred to Europe’s highest court, it would have meant a delay of one, maybe two years.

This, according to activists, would have dampened the momentum of their anti-ACTA work which reached unprecedented levels and Europe-wide protests earlier this year.

“Referring ACTA to the court is no substitute for the political procedure needed to check this agreement and determine democratically whether its entry into force is in the European interest,” said Pirate Party MEP and Shadow rapporteur on ACTA for the GreensAmelia Andersdotter.

“Only a democratic ratification process via the European and national parliaments is able to provide such a judgment, and we therefore welcome today’s decision to continue with this process,” she concluded.

ACTA will now be pushed through committees in the European Parliament during April and May and then to a final full Parliament vote at its June plenary session.

“If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.”

After its existence was first discovered by the public in 2008 after documents were uploaded to Wikileaks, ACTA’s opponents now have just 10 weeks to pull out the stops.” This article is a fan duplication, you can view the entire article and it’s related comments at TorrentFreak.com or just click HERE!

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Internet Censorship Thru Fear, Is Free Speech Dead?

The Opte (pronounced op-tee) Project is a project started by Barrett Lyon that seeks to make an accurate representation of the extent of the Internet using visual graphics.

Internet Censorship Thru Fear:

Internet censorship is the control or suppression of the publishing of, or access to information on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations either at the behest of government or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in Self-Censorship on their own or due to intimidation and fear. —>

Fearing the power of the new technologies, authoritarian states have devised subtle and not-so-subtle ways to filter, monitor, and otherwise obstruct or manipulate the openness of the internet. Even a number of democratic states have considered or implemented various restrictions in response to the potential legal, economic, and security challenges raised by new media.

Critics Claim ACTA Threatens Internet Freedom:

The Netherlands this week imposed delays on the ratification of the ACTA international anti-piracy agreement, which critics claim threatens Internet freedoms. Opponents say the draft Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement puts users’ privacy at risk while the European Commission contends the measure doesn’t change existing data protection laws and is needed to mount a long-term global fight against copyright theft.

Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have already delayed the international trade agreement’s ratification process, citing the same privacy concerns highlighted during a wave of anti-ACTA protests throughout Europe last week. The Netherlands joined that group Tuesday, when the Dutch lower house of Parliament backed a motion from the Green Left party calling on the Netherlands to refrain from signing onto ACTA, Radio Netherlands reported. —>

Europeans Have Given Up Freedom of Speech:

Americans think of Europeans as essentially like themselves. They believe European societies are like their own-rooted in the rule of law, freedom of religion, democratic government, market competition, and an unfettered press. In recent years, however, Europeans have given up an essential liberty: freedom of speech. It is true that in the United States prevailing orthodoxies on some questions are ruthlessly enforced but it is still legal to say just about anything. Not so in much of Europe. In the last decade or so countries we think of as fellow democracies-France, Germany, Switzerland and others-have passed laws that limit free speech for the same crude ideological reasons that drove the brief, unsuccessful vogue of campus speech codes in the United States.

World Map of Internet Censorship.

Today in Europe there are laws as bad as anything George Orwell could have imagined. In some countries courts have ruled that the facts are irrelevant, and that certain things must not be said whether they are true or false. In others, a defendant in court who tries to explain or defend a forbidden view will be charged on the spot with a fresh offense. Even his solicitor / lawyer can be fined or go to jail for trying to mount a defense. In one case a judge ordered that a bookseller’s entire stock-innocent as well as offending titles-be burned!

Just as Eastern Europe is emerging from it, Western Europe has entered the thought-crime era, in a return to the mentality that launched the Inquisition and the wars of religion. It is a tyranny of the left practiced by the very people who profess shock at the tactics of Joseph McCarthy, an exercise of raw power in the service of pure ideology. The desire not merely to debate one’s opponents but to disgrace them, muzzle them, fine them, jail them is utterly contrary to the spirit of civilized discourse. It is profoundly disturbing to find this ugly sentiment codified into law in some of the countries we think of as pillars of Western Civilization. At the same time, these laws cannot help but draw attention to the very ideas they forbid. Truth does not generally require the help of censors. —>

Not All Censorship Is Bad:

A proposed directive on combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography will introduce EU-wide requirements on prevention, prosecution of offenders and protection for victims. It would also oblige Member States promptly to remove web sites containing child pornography or, should this prove impossible, allow Member States to block access to them under certain conditions.

Stop Child Pornography

The text sets out minimum penalties for about 20 criminal offences – far more than are usually provided for in EU legislation. On-line “grooming” (befriending children via the web with the intention of sexually abusing them) will become a criminal offence across the EU, as will child sex tourism, where the offence is committed on a Member State’s territory or by one of its nationals abroad. The UK and Ireland say they wish to adopt and apply this directive. Denmark is the only Member State not taking part.

The sections of the draft on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, repealing Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA that most interest this article are as follows;

(Section 13)  Child pornography, which constitutes sex abuse images, is a specific type of content which cannot be construed as the expression of an opinion. To combat it, it is necessary to reduce the circulation of child abuse material by making it more difficult for offenders to upload such content onto the publicly accessible Web. Action is therefore necessary to remove the content and apprehend those guilty of making, distributing or downloading child abuse images. With a view to supporting the Union’s efforts in combating child pornography, Member States should do their best to cooperate with third countries in seeking to secure the removal of such content from servers in their territory.

(Section 13a) However, despite such efforts, the removal of child pornography content at its source is often not possible where the original materials are not located within the Union, either because the State where the servers are hosted is not willing to cooperate or because obtaining removal of the material from the State concerned proves to be particularly long. Mechanisms may also be put in place to block access from the Union’s territory to internet pages identified as containing or disseminating child pornography. It is understood that the measures undertaken by Member States in accordance with this directive in order to remove or, where appropriate, block websites containing child pornography could be based on various types of public action, such as legislative, non-legislative, judicial or other.

In that context, the provisions of this directive are without prejudice to voluntary action taken by the internet industry to prevent misuse of their services, or to any support for such action by Member States. Whichever basis for action or method is chosen, Member States should ensure that it provides an adequate level of legal certainty and predictability to users and service providers. Both with a view to the removal and the blocking of child abuse content, cooperation between public authorities should be established and strengthened, particularly in the interest of ensuring that national lists of websites containing child pornography material are as complete as possible and of avoiding duplication of work.

Any such developments must take account of the rights of the end users, adhere to existing legal and judicial procedures and comply with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Safer Internet Programme has set up a network of hotlines whose goal is to collect information and to ensure coverage and exchange of reports on the major types of illegal content online.

If you would like to view the full draft, you can find it ‘Here‘. If you would like to understand more regarding Internet Censorship, or get involved in any of the many campaigns against it [See Below]. If you have a comment about this article or any of the issues raised within, feel free to express them in the comment section below.

Campaigns Against Internet Censorship:

Reference:

  • Wikipedia : the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. 3,876,135 articles in English.
  • UPI.com : United Press International (UPI) provider of critical information to governments and researchers worldwide.
  • A.C.L.U. : American Civil Liberties Union, Because freedom can’t protect itself.
  • 123.Help Me! : For all your Essays, Research Papers, Term Papers, and Speeches.
  • The Sofia Echo : Providing news about Bulgaria as well as Central and South Eastern Europe.
  • The European Parliament Website : Portal to all that’s European, and the only directly-elected body of the European Union.
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10 Myths About ‘ACTA’ – The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

mythbusted

1. ACTA is a secret agreement. Negotiations were not transparent and conducted “behind closed doors”. The European Parliament was not fully informed.

The text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is publicly available to all. The negotiations for ACTA were not different from negotiations on any other international agreement. It is a fact that such agreements are not negotiated in public, but with the Lisbon Agreement and the revised Framework Agreement there are clear rules on how the European Parliament (EP) should be informed of such trade negotiations. And these have been scrupulously followed.

Trade Commissioner De Gucht has participated in three plenary debates, replied to several dozens of written and oral questions, as well to two Resolutions and one Declaration of the EP, whilst Commission services have provided several dedicated briefings to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) during the negotiations. Likewise, the public was informed, since the launch of the negotiations about the objectives and general thrust of the negotiations. The Commission also released summary reports after every negotiation round and the negotiating text since April 2010.

2. ACTA leads to “harmonisation through the backdoor”. A study ordered by INTA to academics says that ACTA will require changes to EU enforcement legislation and/or to national laws.

ACTA provisions are compatible with existing EU law. ACTA will not require any revision or adaptation of EU law and will not require any Member States to review the measures or instruments by which they implement relevant EU law. ACTA is also in line with relevant international law, in particular with the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This has been confirmed in very clear terms by an Opinion of the Legal Service of the European Parliament of 5 October 2011, which was requested by the International Trade Committee (INTA).

The INTA study does not show evidence of any concrete situation where ACTA would contradict, repeal or require the modification of a single provision existing in EU legislation. Instead, it gives two examples (regarding the coverage of all trademark infringements by customs controls and regarding the calculation of damages based on the value of the real goods) where it cautions against the possibility that the EU be found in breach of ACTA due to the interpretation that some of its members may have of the implementation of ACTA’s rules.

3. ACTA moves the balance of rights towards IP right-holders. ACTA eliminates safeguards and exceptions existing under international law.

Quite to the contrary, ACTA is drafted in very flexible terms and contains the necessary safeguards to allow its Parties to strike an appropriate balance between all rights and interests involved, in line with their economic, political and social objectives, as well as with their legal traditions. All safeguards and exceptions under EU law or under the TRIPs Agreement remain fully preserved.

4. ACTA will lead to limitations on fundamental rights or civil liberties (e.g. controls of laptops of air passengers at borders, monitoring of internet traffic, etc.).

There is no provision in ACTA that substantiates this claim. ACTA is about tackling large scale illegal activity, often pursued by criminal organisations. It is not about limiting civil liberties or harassing consumers. The respect for fundamental rights such as, privacy,
freedom of expression and data protection is expressly mentioned as a basic principle of the agreement. There is a provision in ACTA specifically exempting travellers from checks if the infringing goods are of a non-commercial nature and not part of large trafficking.

5. ACTA threatens the legitimate trade in generic medicines and global public health.

There are no provisions in ACTA that could directly or indirectly affect the legitimate trade in generic medicines or, more broadly, global public health. On the contrary, ACTA contains unequivocal language safeguarding access to health and expressly refers to the Doha Declaration on intellectual property and public health. ACTA also excludes patents from criminal and border measures.

6. ACTA will lead to the introduction of a ‘3 strikes’ system for internet infringements, or to demands for internet service providers (ISPs, to monitor or filter the data they transmit.

ACTA does not provide for a “3 strikes” or a “graduated response” system to infringements over the internet. Neither does it oblige Internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor or filter content of their users. ACTA is fully in line with the relevant EU legislation, in force since 2000 (E-commerce Directive).

7. ACTA’s provisions on criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights require additional legislation at EU level.

There is no EU legislation on criminal measures. The criminal enforcement provisions of ACTA do not require additional legislation at EU level. A very limited number of Member States may need to adapt their own legislation related to criminal enforcement to comply with the commitments they undertook (ACTA is a mixed EU/Member States’ competence Agreement). This has been confirmed in very clear terms by the Opinion of the Legal Service of the European Parliament of 5 October 2011.

8. The EU will impose the provisions of ACTA to third countries through incorporation of its provisions in free trade agreements.

There is no intention to do so, and this has not been proposed in bilateral trade negotiations conducted by the EU

9. ACTA should only cover counterfeiting (trademark infringements) of goods. It should not cover copyright infringements, particularly on internet.

Providing for enforcement of a broad range of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringements is necessary, since a large spectrum of EU economic operators rely on economic activities that need intellectual property protection (e.g. geographical indications for high quality agricultural products, designs for fashion and design, copyright for the entertainment and culture sectors or patents for innovative industries). This being said, ACTA steered away from a one-size-fits all approach and contains several exceptions to avoid that legitimate goals such as access to medicines are incidentally affected by provisions destined to prevent illegal traffics.

10. ACTA was negotiated as a self-standing agreement to avoid being negotiated at a inclusive multilateral forum, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The Commission would have preferred to address IPR enforcement problems in the WTO or in WIPO, and made many proposals to that effect. The point is that certain other Members of these organisations opposed any enforcement debate there.

Article taken from The European Commission’s ACTA “fact sheet”