How About Some of That Transparency President Obama?
I must say that I was excited when President Obama was elected.
This feeling of excitement wasn't out of some silly notion that in terms of any meaningful policy, he is any different than McCain. It wasn't because he was the first black president, it wasn't to improve world relations, and it wasn't because he is such an intelligent man, although he certainly is.
What really made me excited was that we narrowly dodged a bullet named Sarah, which I still believed would have been fatal. However, I have come to realize that deciding to take a bullet in the leg instead of risking taking one in the head head isn't always the best choice.
The purpose of this introduction is just to make it clear that I am not disappointed by Obama's actions, as he has pretty much done what he said he would and how I have come to expect from a politician. For example, we are pulling out of Iraq and heading to Afghanistan, which is exactly what he said he would do.
However, it has become clear that the transparency line he was so proud of touting, which set him apart from the last 8 years, was pretty much a lie and this lack of transparency threatens to destroy the privacy of the Internet.
ACTA is short for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and looks like it will end up being the single biggest threat to personal privacy since the passage of the Patriot Act.
Currently, representatives from all over the World are meeting in secret to develop a treaty that will govern how intellectual property is protected. No, this isn't a conspiracy in the same vein as the moon landing, but it is something that isn't really being covered by the press in America. Well, not as much as it should be.
A draft of the ACTA treaty was recently leaked and it became clear that the goal was to allow Internet Service Provides(ISPs) to spy on their customers.
As is the case of the Patriot Act, were only .3%, yes not even 1%, of warrant-less wiretaps in 2008 actually had anything to do with terrorism, it looks like in the name of protecting intellectual property rights, our constitutional rights will again be stripped. Further, due to the regulations in the treaty, it would create large hurdles for those who want to legitimately use peer to peer networks.
So, rather than going from the assumption that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it will be simply assumed that we are all criminals and any expectation of privacy is removed.
Of course, this is excellent news for all government agencies and Corporate Interests like the RIAA and MPAA, but each time they take one of our rights, we will have to fight 100x harder to get it back.
So if ACTA is So Important, Why Aren't We Making it a US Law
By making the ACTA a worldwide treaty, it can neatly skirt our constitutional rights to be free from warrant-less search and any other violations. It is also very likely to be so controversial that no matter what the beliefs of the senators actually were, they would have to side with their constituents out of fear of loosing votes. This is not a good thing and in truth, they should be willing to stand up for their principals, but we are, after all, talking about politicians.
So, you can see, it is far better to decide this matter in private, with the input of representatives from the recording industry, although to be fair, there are others involved as well, who will hopefully be arguing our case. Of course, since it is behind closed doors, we won't ever really know.
Transparency? I think the word you were looking for was Opacity
Obama's approval of the ACTA treaty is no real surprise when you take into account his voting history, nor is his refusal to release information about the treaty, as he is after all a politician. However, it does directly go against his promise of bringing transparency to the White House and unfortunately seems to be about as honest of a claim as when he said he was going to kick out the lobbyist, which wasn't really true either.
Recently, when a citizen who was concerned about the dramatic far lasting effects ACTA will have on our culture requested information from the White House, citing the Freedom of Information Act, the Obama Administration borrowed a line from the Cheney Presidency and stated that they couldn't release the information due to National Security.
Of course, those in the UK were similarly rebuffed, as have been those in Canada. However, in what may be a dry sense of humor, the Canadian Government did release the information, but blanked it all out, except for the title. The argument here that the contents of the treaty would not meet with the support of most average people, so it is better to not let them have a say.
So, I say again. Where's my transparency? If it is really for the good of the people, would it really have to be preformed and ratified in secret? This is the question, to which we will apparently have no answer until it is too late.
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