EFF, Public Knowledge Fight For Web Freedom

USTR homepageThe digital rights groups Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge have gone to court to seek more information about an international anti-piracy treaty that they fear will curtail Web users' civil liberties.

The organizations this week filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington against the Office of the United States Trade Representative, seeking to force the agency to reveal documents concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

They argue in their complaint that the records "involve a matter of substantial public interest" and that there is an "urgency to inform the public" about the treaty.

The agreement is a work-in-progress, but information that has surfaced about it so far have spurred fears that it will infringe on people's privacy in an attempt to crack down on online copyright infringement. Documents that surfaced on Wikileaks earlier this year led some observers to believe that the pact could require Internet service providers to police subscribers for copyright infringement. It's not clear, however, whether those documents are genuine.

Earlier this week, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation were among a host of organizations that asked people to contact their representatives and demand more answers about the treaty.

In fact, little about the pact is definitively known. Last October, United States Trade Ambassador Susan Schwab announced that the agency would negotiate an anti-piracy pact with Canada, the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Since then, there's been near silence from the agency, other than a request for comments that appeared in February in the Federal Register.

Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation allege in the lawsuit that they filed Freedom of Information Act requests for documents concerning the treaty, but haven't received satisfactory responses.

Next story loading loading..