The ACTA juggernaut continues to roll ahead, despite public indignation
about an agreement supposedly about counterfeiting that has turned into a regime for global Internet regulation. The
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has already announced
that the next round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations will take place in January — with the
aim of concluding the deal "as soon as possible in 2010."
For the rest of us, with access
to only leaks and whispers
of what ACTA is about
, there are many troubling questions. How can such a radical proposal legally be kept so secret from the millions of Net
users and companies whose rights and freedoms stand to be affected
? Who decides what becomes the law of the land and by what influence? Where is the public oversight for an agreement
that would set the legal rules for the knowledge economy? And what can be done to fix this runaway process?
We wrestle with these questions in an essay on “The Impact of ACTA on the Knowledge Economy”(PDF here
) in the Yale Journal of International Law (November 2009 edition)
. We explain how ACTA got this far, in this form, and propose four mechanisms for USTR transparency reforms, that will
give the public a voice in ACTA, if U.S. citizens — and their elected officials — speak loudly and quickly enough