After 2 years of secret negotiations and numerous complaints about the lack of transparency in the treaty drafting process, on 21 April 2010 the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) finally released a draft of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Most early fears about the draft treaty have been confirmed in the release.
ACTA is an attempt by large intellectual property interests to create a new global standard that increases the rights granted to Hollywood and Big Pharma at the expense of the public interest. ACTA proponents claim the treaty is aimed at enforcing intellectual property laws, but it would, in fact, do much more, such as increase the rights granted to IP holders and regulate the flow of information on the Internet. The proposal would turn Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into "copyright cops" who are required to police and control the activity of all its customers. Much of the draft treaty is still "bracketed", meaning there is no agreement among the negotiating parties to include the provision.
Reporters Without Borders issued a report warning of ACTA’s harmful impact on freedom of expression after the draft was release. A number of technology companies also stated fears about ACTA’s implications on innovation and its erosion of existing US legal standards. See also EFF’s preliminary analysis and Michael Geist’s ACTA analysis from around the web.
The next round of ACTA negotiations (between business and government – civil society is excluded) is scheduled to take place from 28 June – 2 July 2010 in Lucerne, Switzerland.