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ACTA secrecy corrodes democracy

Posted on January 25, 2010

The next round of ACTA negotiations starts on Tuesday in Guadalajara, Mexico. Representatives from each participating country, including New Zealand, will be talking further about what the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement treaty should include.

The New Zealand position

What will the New Zealand representatives be saying? Will they be supporting the inclusion of the new internet-related policies submitted by the USA at Seoul or will they be suggesting that the treaty should stick to the "counterfeiting" in its name and leave copyright for a more appropriate forum such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation?

No one in New Zealand, apart from the officials involved, knows and the officials aren't telling. The ACTA participants have decided that ACTA is different from other treaties and that the negotiation process will be secret.

This is not how things should be done in an open and democratic society like New Zealand. While there are times when governments best serve people through acting in secrecy, this should be limited and must be justified. We see no justification for negotiating ACTA in secret and none has been presented.

The secrecy corrodes our faith in our system and leads to a lack of trust in both the process and the bodies participating in it.

Conclusion

We support the principle of open government and believe it is one of the most important foundations of our democracy. The secrecy of ACTA is anti-democratic and the participation by the New Zealand government is a betrayal of the trust of the people.

We believe that the New Zealand government should not be taking part in the secret negotiations around ACTA and should withdraw until such time as they can be negotiated in public.

Other articles by Tech Liberty about ACTA

  • In ACTA and the New Copyright Deal we explained that copyright has many stake holders in our society and they all should have input into any new copyright laws. ACTA is an attempt by the current content industries to rewrite the laws in their favour.
  • Then, disappointed by the lack of openness at the Ministry of Economic Development briefing, we concluded that the ACTA process is irrevocably damaged by secrecy and called for New Zealand to withdraw.

Posted by Thomas Beagle

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