Apr 24, 2012

Are Americans aware of ACTA, Europe's version of SOPA, that could have a significant impact on US companies?

I know most Americans have enough of their own concerns without spending a lot of time watching the Beeb, but I wonder if there is awareness of an EU treaty that SOPA supporters would love. 22 nations have signed on so far to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The thing is, it isn't as if on-line has clear borders, and many of the biggest tech companies here, are your American businesses. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, they are all here and they are all big players.

ACTA serves the same purported purpose as SOPA and in a different manner CIPSA in the US. The claim is to protect copyrighted material, the result is likely to be increased monitoring of individuals, lack of respect for citizens' privacy and possible fines and jail time for individuals inadvertently violating restrictions. The EU Parliament's rapporteur on ACTA said just a few days past that ACTA lacked adequate protection for citzens' rights. If you think that these sort of things don't affect Americans, I suggest that one should ask Google about the German Court decision against YouTube. Considering the significant impact it could have on American companies doing business in the EU, I am curious as to what level of awareness there exists in America of ACTA?

I doubt many people here in the US are aware of it, unless they read european tech news. I'm not even sure how many were aware of our troubled related legislation. It's pretty tough to focus on an area of the world that you don't live in, given people's day to day lives.

Very few people here have ever heard of it, outside of those who are tech news junkies.  Half the people here have been convinced by political rhetoric that Europe is a semi-communist wasteland that hates economic freedom, never mind the fact that they have never set foot on the continent (or Great Britain, natch) and are grossly misinformed about reality.  Plus, we continue to play a game here of whack-a-mole with RIAA pushed internet censorship laws masquerading as copyright protection.  As soon as a SOPA bill is beat back, a CIPSA raises its ugly head.  So, as terrible as it sounds, most of us here just don't spend much time thinking about Europe, unless we are directly impacted by something there.  On the upside, it seems that the opposition to ACTA was a bit late to the party, but is pretty energized.  Hope they succeed.     

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