When the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was signed into law in 2011 by the then-President Barack Obama, it ignited a negative reception. This did not go well with American people both at an individual and business level. For purposes of clarity, the ACTA is an international treaty that protects intellectual property. Law enforcement agencies that are in charge of guarding intellectual property rights were now able to use the ACTA as a backup to ruthlessly guard intellectual property rights. The online space has become a major trading ground and most people that trade online would want the protection of their intellectual property rights. This was the key motivation for having the ACTA to have an international law that would help hold people culpable for infringing intellectual property rights. Various clauses of the ACTA since inception have not sat well with most people citing that it will greatly affect people’s privacy. Here are some of the main criticisms of ACTA.
Process of enactment
Most people expected that since this is a law that was bound to affect various businesses and individuals, it was only right that it was passed with the consent of the people. Before any bill is passed into law the expectation is that parliament and other relevant bodies are given a chance to debate over it. This is a law making norm that is cross-border. The ACTA was however enacted into law with very high secrecy. Parliament never got a chance to have an input in the process. Also, since this is a law that was bound to affect many citizens, it was only fair that citizens got a chance to give their opinions about it. This was however never done. This was the main reason it was highly criticized. It is a law that was passed as a result of closed-door meetings. There was nothing transparent about it and this made many people highly oppose it.
Infringement of other more important rights
As much as the protection of intellectual property rights is important, the one thing that stands out is that other rights are equally important. For example, the provisions in the ACTA allow copyright holders to have access to private information. This private information is the one that is held by those they deem as having infringed their rights. In the process of this, it means that most people’s private information would be exposed to third parties involuntarily. This is a complete violation of the right to privacy.
Also, innovation is among the things that modern-day businesses and individuals live for. This means that most people were going to slower their innovation projects for fear of being found culpable for infringement of intellectual property laws. This is backed up by the fact that most innovators can at times draw inspiration from other people to back up their projects. Another thing that did not sit well with most people is that this statute was going to affect freedom of speech as the online spaces would face so many regulations.
Enforcement of the ACTA
It was the hope of many Americans and global citizens affected by the act that the enforcement tactics be transparent. This was met with great shock because the means of enforcement were illegal an failed to have any level of transparency. Just like the act was highly privatized until it was signed, the ways of the enforcers of the act are also hidden. This is something that the constitution of the USA does not advocate for. Anything that is supposed to affect the citizens is supposed to be done in such a way that everyone id made aware of the imminent repercussions they are to face and from whom.
Some people will often infringe on intellectual property rights but not with the intent of commercialization of the same. Sometimes they do it for personal home use. However, the ACTA is blind to the use of the ACTA and has great repercussions on anyone regardless of the use of the document acquired. For example, some people will download a song and while posting a video on social media, they might have the song playing in the background. This has led to anyone posting a video that has a song in it to denounce the rights that they have over the song.
What this clearly shows is that the ACTA is a highly flawed statute that has little good on the people. It’s packed with great unconstitutionality from the process, enactment to enforcement. As much as intellectual property is something that should be guarded internationally, it also shouldn’t be done at the expense of the larger society. It would have been different if the law was introduced more constitutionally with focus on what parliament has to say and also without leaving behind public opinions.