As we get ready for the World Conference on Information Technology (WCIT) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a number of governments and governmental bodies are passing resolutions and doing other stuff to get their positions out there as part of the pre-game show. Last week, the Parliament of the European Union passed a resolution directed at the WCIT which, among other things, “Supports any proposals to maintain the current scope of the ITRs and the current mandate of the ITU; opposes any proposals that would extend the scope to areas such as the internet, including domain name space, IP address allocation, the routing of internet-based traffic and content-related issues.”
Obviously, given my previously expressed concerns about the potential impact of expanding the ITU’s jurisdiction to the Internet, I think this is excellent news. It also clearly demonstrates that concern about expanding the ITU’s jurisdiction in this area is by no means limited to the United States or motivated from a hostility to the United Nations or global coordination. But that is not actually what I wanted to talk about.
I just wanted to briefly note how the debate around the ITU and WCIT illustrates just how much the EU (and others in the world) have come to hate ACTA. No, ACTA has nothing whatsoever to do with WCIT, although I understand that the folks at the ITU — in what can only be taken as a fine irony — apparently invited the media folks who developed ACTA and SOPA/PIPA to coach them on public relations. Nevertheless, for folks in Europe, ACTA has become the archetypical awfulness that could befall the Internet without constant vigilance. Thus, the President of the European Socialist Party denounced the WCIT for its “secretive processes” similar to the negotiation of ACTA and warned that the ITU would use the WCIT to “allow ACTA by the back door.”
Leaving aside that “ACTA by the back door” sounds like something available at a certain clubs in Berlin or Amsterdam for 10 euros (15 for a side of SOPA/PIPA), I just want to emphasize how very, very much the entire process and substance of ACTA is now despised in Europe. ACTA has essentially become code for “special interests in private trying to destroy Internet freedom.” Despite brief signs that USTR might actually be getting a clue on this last summer, more recent USTR activity shows they are still utterly intent on replicating every mistake they made with ACTA in negotiating the TPP.
I am not sure how many times USTR has to screw up international trade negotiations before they stop taking orders from Hollywood. But if USTR and Hollywood think the hostility to ACTA and SOPA/PIPA are just gonna blow over and they can go back to business as usual, they really need to think again. The fact that opponents of WCIT are scoring points in Europe by comparing it to ACTA is only the latest anvil to drop on USTR’s clueless noggin as a warning to stop trying to use agreements to promote trade to policy launder Hollywood’s copyright maximist agenda.
Stay tuned . . . .