Commentary

Activists Press For Details Of Piracy Treaty

For months, rumors have swirled about a new international anti-counterfeiting treaty in the works. The details haven't yet been officially released, but documents that surfaced on Wikileaks have stirred fears that the pact, aimed at preventing piracy, could have a profound impact on how people use the Web.

Now, more than 100 groups from around the world are asking for more details about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA. Organizations ranging from digital rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and Center for Democracy & Technology to AIDS activists to academics have launched an effort to pressure officials to divulge more details about the treaty.

"Based on leaked documents and industry comments about ACTA, we believe the treaty could require Internet service providers to monitor all consumers' Internet communications, interfere with fair use of copyrighted materials, and criminalize peer-to-peer electronic file sharing," the EFF wrote in a post about the issue.

It's probably premature to sound the alarm about a potential treaty -- one that might not even be legal or enforceable in the U.S. -- but the groups are right to demand answers.

There's no justifiable reason why worldwide discussions about Web use and piracy should continue to take place behind closed doors.

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