Why Jordanians Should Be Against ACTA
Back in 2007, the USA, EU, Switzerland and Japan started the negotiations to create an international agreement on intellectual property rights, the claimed goal was to reduce the trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works through a legislative framework. The agreement is now known as Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA.
The government of Jordan seems it has joined the negotiations in one of the phases but its position remains unclear. The agreement parties are not the only issue which still unknown, the draft of the agreement has not been publicly disclosed and many civil organizations are accusing the un-transparency of the whole ACTA process and substance.
Probably you think that blocking counterfeit drugs and respecting intellectual property are good things. Right, but there are several issues you have to be really afraid of in ACTA:
- No real negotiations with civil society and open forums were held in the drafting of ACTA, in addition, details of the agreement are still kept secret. A leaked discussion paper shows that the 'wishes' of industry groups are taken into consideration.
- ACTA includes legal regimes to encourage ISPs to cooperate with right holders in the removal of infringing material. This can be done by network filtering -mandatory to Internet Service Providers- the method can be implemented by inspecting citizens' Internet communications but it raises big concerns for citizens' civil liberties and privacy rights.
- Citizens' content and private communication stored by ISPs may be provided to authorities in an easier and legal approach: a threat to freedom of expression and communication privacy in Jordan.
- ISPs may be asked to implement a Graduated Response (a.k.a Three Strikes). The solution consists in the termination of Internet connection and block of web access to citizens who commit copyright infringements.
- Jordan is a small developing country that is negotiating with developed countries with huge economies. Other countries and ACTA will not care about Jordan's domestic priorities and the Jordanian industry will have no say in the matter.
- New legal standards and restrictions will have negative impact in Internet innovation and Jordan's economic and IT development.
- The ACTA can be implemented in the Jordanian legislation under many forms, even within the new Cybercrimes Law, as the content of the draft law remains unpublished (as well as the point of view of the government) there is no warranty that civil rights will be respected.
Our government has to understand that civil rights on the Internet should be respected, the web, by its nature, cannot be practically censored or monitored, it managed to de-link our social and political reality from the world of sovereign states. Jordan has also to know that joining ACTA will not only represent a threat to the rights of its citizens but will build a new barrier in front of our technological development.