I started a forum post about this, but I feel that this is so important that it needs to be shared here to spread the word!
Everyone and their grandmother heard about SOPA and PIPA and the huge amount of publicity that was generated recently to kill the bills. But did you know that there is already a global agreement on the books called ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)? No, this is not a US law – It’s worse: it is a multilateral treaty that has been negotiated over many years by the US, Canada, EU and others in almost absolute secrecy. One top EU official even resigned recently over how the negotiations were carried out.
What is ACTA exactly? Well, it’s like SOPA and PIPA, but will be enforced not just by the US, but also by a long list of signatory countries and, later on, by a worldwide copyright infringement agency to be built along the lines of the WTO. Most of the industrialised countries in the world have already signed up to or were even party to the talks, this includes Canada, Japan, the US, EU, Australia, Singapore and so on. There were widespread protests in Poland this week against the Polish president signing the law. People in Poland seem much better informed than lots of us, because I don’t know about you, but a week ago I had never heard of ACTA, yet it is even more dangerous than SOPA and PIPA. Read more about the proposed multilateral agreement below. Notice that New Zealand is also party to the agreement, which makes me wonder if that is how the US was able to shut down Megaupload.
In the same week that people have been protesting against ACTA, Twitter has declared that it will start “selectively censoring” tweets on a country-to-country basis, ostensibly to make their product available in countries where people rely on social networks to arrange themselves in resistance to totalitarian governments. The US government is already trying to pressure Twitter to close accounts held by terrorist organisations like al-Shabab in Somalia, what’s to say that this won’t lead down the slippery road to closing anything with any critical opinion of the US government at all in several years’ time?
This censorship of social networking will go even further: the FBI is designing a tool to generate security alerts through data mash collection on Facebook, yet one wonders to what purpose this will really be employed (I imagine to build a huge database of information on almost everyone on Facebook).
Are we witnessing the end of the free internet and the beginning of the 1984-control era? Have you heard of any other threats to the freedom of information on the internet? Please share your views in this open thread!