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The ultimate diversion Why SOPA was necessary

The last week of January has seen ravaging outbursts by the youth of the entire world against the American censorship bill SOPA. With the help of Wikipedia, Google and various other renowned sites, this online movement against censorship was made popular. But what was SOPA really about? Yours truly here thinks it was just a propaganda to distract people. Why? Because then came ACTA.

What is ACTA?
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a plurilateral agreement for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organisation, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, or the United Nations.

I copied that definition from Wikipedia and I could very well go to jail for it.

What does ACTA imply?
ACTA was originally meant to protect intellectual property, as in a trademark or patents and also help artists make first-rate work. The complication in the ACTA text is that it never defined 'intellectual property' and since it is open to interpretation, it could mean anything from a downloaded movie to a simple idea.

Let me explain with a real life analogy I came across on YouTube. Say a man pays for a cooking class and learns to cook a chicken. Then he comes home and teaches it to his wife; but he can't do that because he is sharing copyright information for free. Hence, they go to jail. How would anyone know what the man is doing at home? Surveillance. I mean who needs privacy these days, right?

ACTA makes ISPs directly liable for the information their service users share, thus they would be forced to censor the inflow and outflow of information through their networks. So, how are you affected through ACTA?

* No free speech due to Internet censorship.
* No free music, movies, series or anything of that sort. NO TORRENT!
* Surveillance of all your online activities.
* No net neutrality due to protection of certain Internet protocols.
* Loss of Internet access if your ISP thinks that you have been a naughty little kid.(the entire teenage population and corporate office workers)
* Websites like Twitter and YouTube could very well close down to low profits because every user can be accused of counterfeiting.

How is it any different from SOPA?
It is different because most people didn't know about it. People on Facebook are still crying over SOPA whereas ACTA poses more threat since it will be conducted by an autonomous governing body. Yes, the rules won't be applicable to only certain countries but, in fact, the entire world. Plus, the Internet knows no nation. If Wikipedia is censored, how will you not be affected? The hype about ACTA surfaced just after SOPA was postponed but the hype was short-lived. Worst thing, the agreement has been looming around in secrecy for three long years! You tell me, when do politicians keep secrets?

What can you do about it?
Nothing really. ACTA has already been passed and signed by 30 states and it will come into force after some ratification by six states. And in Europe, the signing was done by unelected representatives. Now doesn't it sound weird that a simple copyright protection act was carried out with such secrecy and contains this much conspiracy and yet it was far less talked about than SOPA? Oh well, you can't do anything about it now except go to YouTube and watch beautiful animations (censored nevertheless) about how ACTA will change your life. Cheers.

By Sarah Nafisa Shahid
RS would have like to express sincere condolences for the deaths of Megaupload, btjunkie and thepiratebay. But we don't want to go to jail.


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