Dy’er Sez: Apparently, the Obama administration, working in conjunction with other European nations, is beginning the process of rolling out the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which will make searching your computer for illegally downloaded content fall under the banner of national security.
As a musician, I fully understand an artists need to protect what belongs to them (although I am in total disagreement with how the matter has been handled by the RIAA and other associated organizations), but why is this now becoming a reason for national security as opposed to it being a civil matter? I can clearly see such cases brought to the court as a suit tantamount to theft, but I don’t understand how downloading a song or movie is a threat to national security.
Since the Bush administration, there has been a push to make criminal activities equate to terrorism (in the Patriot Act it claims that even a misdemeanor can trigger anti-terrorism law, and you can be hauled away and imprisoned indefinitely in a military prison with no lawyer, phone call, or legal recourse whatsoever), and the Obama administration is building on that structure not only to criminalize everything they can, but to bring as many activities (illicit or not) under the banner of the Federal government as opposed to local law enforcement or the courts.
So how will these new policies be enforced effectively? Just thinking about my own laptop, I have mp3 music on there, a smattering of video material, a video game or two, pdf’s of books and various documents, and photographs- all are legal. How can a cursory check of my computer show if any of that material is illegally download or not? Would I have to produce receipts that I legally purchased the products? What about material that is copyrighted to me; would I have to carry around copies of the copyright paperwork to prove that? What about items that are legally copied (like backing up my cd collection to a digital drive, downloading free books from Project Gutenberg, music given freely by other musicians that I am acquainted with, and so on), what would I have to do to prove all that?
Obviously, the logistics involved make such a law un-enforceable. Or, more to the point, makes such a law selectively enforceable (like the terrorism watch list, which has well over a million names of American citizens on it – do you really think there are a million terrorists in the country right now?) or simply gives the government the legal go-ahead to survail it’s citizenry at will, with no warrant or probable cause. The former of these points has already been proven (go take a flight somewhere, you’ll see what I mean), but the latter seems very likely as well.
A recent report on the Glen Beck Show (note: personally, I despise Mr. Beck; he is a very, very simple man surrounded by a complex world he doesn’t seem to readily grasp. BUT this is the only mainstream news show that I found which reported on this) profiled the website CARS.GOV (the governmental web-site tie-in for the cash for clunkers policy of the Obama administration) which, when you log on to the system states the following: “This application provides access to the DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer system and is property of the U.S. government. Any or all uses on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS, DoT, and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign”.
So, in effect, when you log onto the CARS system you not only give up any property rights that you might have concerning your computer, but you are also authorizing the federal government to search your computer, make a record of the search, and if any of the contents of your hard drive gets ‘red flagged’ the government will turn that information over to the law enforcement authorities, not only of this country but of any country of it’s choosing. All this without probable cause or a warrant. This type of behavior is CLEARLY unconstitutional, and is seemingly nothing more than a governmental invasion of privacy which was strengthened in the last administration and is clearly being continued (with GUSTO, I might add) by the current administration.
The video is about the ACTA, credited to RT
- Acta &Ndash; A Threat to Our Freedom (socyberty.com)
- Acta: The War on Progress, Freedom, and Human Civilization (socyberty.com)
- When You Realize That Copyright Law Violates Free Speech Rights, You Begin To Recognize The Problems… (techdirt.com)
- MPAA: ACTA’s censoring firewalls will help governments avoid Wikileaks embarrassments (boingboing.net)
- More ACTA Talks This Week (techdailydose.nationaljournal.com)