Government planning "insider" ACTA group>Geist-48X68.jpg
Posted by Michael Geist

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the leaders of G8 countries closed their recent summit in Hokkaido, Japan by encouraging "the acceleration of negotiations to establish a new international legal framework, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and seek to complete the negotiation by the end of this year." The decision to fast-track the controversial ACTA has led to new momentum for the still-secret treaty as the Australian government recently disclosed that a new round of negotiations will commence this week. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reveals that alongside the negotiations, officials have been developing plans to establish an "insider" group comprised solely of government departments and industry lobby groups who would be provided with special access to treaty documentation and discussion. According to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, the government has been crafting an Intellectual Property and Trade Advisory Group. The initial plans for membership in the group were limited exclusively to 12 government departments and 14 industry lobby groups. These include the Canadian Recording Industry Association, the Canadian Motion Picture and Distributors Association, and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. The early membership lists omit several key industry representatives likely to be affected by ACTA, including telecommunications, technology, and Internet companies. Moreover, there is absolutely no representation of the public interest - no privacy representation despite the obvious privacy implications of the treaty (the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada was not included on the government invitee list), no consumer representation despite the effects on consumer interests, and no civil liberties representation on a treaty that could fundamentally alter Canadian civil rights. Click here to read more of Michael's blog.

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