January 24, 2012
ACTA vs. SOPA: Five Reasons ACTA is Scarier Threat to Internet Freedom
ACTA may be scarier than SOPA, Internet freedom advocates say, and outrage over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement treaty is growing as it gains international prominence in the wake of the U.S. Congress shelving the Stop Online Piracy Act last week. International Business Times reports.
ACTA opponents, from the EFF to the Anonymous hacktivist collective are coalescing in opposition to the treaty.
Despite these key similarities, the ACTA vs. SOPA debate usually ends up with opponents warning that ACTA is an even graver global threat to the Internet as we know it.
Five reasons why:
1. Scope: The key reason why ACTA is scarier to many online freedom advocates is the fact that it is an international treaty.
2. Transparency: The SOPA debate took place mostly outside of the public eye at first, but because it was taking place in the halls of the U.S. Congress, Internet freedom advocates were able to monitor the proceedings and respond.
But the ACTA treaty is being negotiated almost entirely behind closed doors.
3. Ease of Approval: The SOPA bill was derailed because it required both houses of the U.S. Congress to pass it, and for President Barack Obama to sign it. Once approved, it would have been subject to legal challenge and could have been repealed or amended by future Congresses.
ACTA, on the other hand, was already signed by the United States on Oct. 11, 2011, and Obama was not required to get the approval of any outside authority to do so: not the Congress, not the Supreme Court, and not the American public.
4. Level of Support: Even before the efforts of opponents brought down the controversial legislation, SOPA had only 31 co-sponsors in Congress, meaning it was never a wildly popular bill to begin with. Despite the loud cries that SOPA was threatening the Internet as we know it and that Congress was about to pass it, it was never really that close to being made into law.
ACTA, on the other had, is an international treaty, meaning that it requires unilateral signatures, not votes based at least in part on public opinion. And the Obama administration has already signed it for America.
5. Visibility: The campaign to stop SOPA began relatively early on in its development. By the time it was even able to go to markup in the House Judiciary Committee, opponents were already loudly making their opinions known to a large slice of the Internet-using public.
ACTA, on the other hand, is largely off most people's radars, though it has been under negotiation for about five years.
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