15 January 2010

Declaring War on European Computer Users

The eagle-eyed Monica Horten has spotted something:

Following a question on counterfeiting and piracy from Italian MEP Salvini, Michel Barnier admitted that he and the new Trade Commissioner, Karel de Grucht, will be negotiating with the US on the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement). This is, I think, the first public admission by the EU that it is negotiating on ACTA. Following a further question asking what action he would take to support creators, he cited the ACTA negotiations as an important step. He said it would put Europe on the same level as al regions of the world.

He said " of course there is freedom of information, but there is also freedom of creation... it is necessary to balance that freedom of information with the right of artists to earn money". He said he would work with Commissioner Reding (Justice and Fundamental Rights). He said it was important to inform the public, but also to change the legislative framework. I think I understood him correctly - and if I did, this is a significant statement, because until now, my understanding is that the official line on ACTA is it not about changing the law.

That's certainly a crucial point, but I think that the post contains something even more important - and frankly terrifying:

In his opening statement to the European Parliament, he outlined his priorities. The second priority was to promote creation and innovation, and the protection of the rights of creators. In his view, it is necessary to adapt the rules for the electronic world. He said that 'la creation' is being weakened by counterfeiting and piracy, and he wants to eradicate it and will support the Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy which was set up under his predecessor.

"Eradicate piracy"? This man either knows nothing about the technology or nothing about people. Seeking to eradicate "piracy" is about as sensible as seeking to eradicate "drugs" or "terrorism": it shows yet another politician happy to mouth platitudes without any thought for their real consequences, which would be nothing less than declaring war on hundreds of millions of European computer users. The next few years are beginning to look grim.

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Anonymous said...

Indeed, they do look grim, considering the US Supreme Court yesterday ruled that corporations have the same "free speech" rights as individuals and thus can spend unlimited money to elect politicians (or bribe or drum them out of office). Never mind that a corporation doesn't have residence, cannot vote, and can be controlled by non-local interests.

Along with the horrid ACTA the US is pushing (another extreme irony of the Obama administration), this effectively is the beginning of the end of democratic sovereignty. Politicians won't represent states or provinces, but rather corporations, as in "The Senator from Exxon is recognized for 15 minutes." Most judges in the US are also elected, and thus judges and the politicians will all be employees of the corporations, and their decisions political acts.

The result? ACTA is just the beginning of grim.

Glyn Moody said...

@zaine: yes, that decision about corporate bribes is insane.