Do you want Mr. Obama to win the elections this fall? Then please help him by contacting him to tell him to stop doing one of the most boneheaded things a politician can do these days - alienate younger voters and internet users by threatening the internet. Further, you should let him know that what is worse than the actual content of the agreement that he is imposing is the means by which he is imposing it. Mr. Obama is engaging in an arrogant end-run around constitutional process that reeks of the tactics used by the Bush administration in the grips of their "unitary executive" orgy of power-grabbing. You should be concerned because Mr. Obama is robbing you of an opportunity to work within the system to change laws that need reform like the DMCA.
What I'm talking about is the Obama administration's actions with regard to ACTA.
Here is a video that explains ACTA:
ACTA is yet another attempt by the corporate thugs who tried to bring you SOPA and PIPA to protect their profits at the expense of destroying the internet culture as we know it. ACTA differs from SOPA and PIPA in that it is an international treaty, a multi-lateral trade agreement between nations that would set up its own standards organization to govern regulation of counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the internet by its member nations.
ACTA was created as a secret, back-room deal and input from internet rights groups, free speech advocates and the general public was excluded in an opaque process so twisted and bizarre that it caused the European rapporteur for ACTA to resign his position in disgust:
"I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament's demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.
As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens' legitimate demands.”
Everyone knows the ACTA agreement is problematic, whether it is its impact on civil liberties, the way it makes Internet access providers liable, its consequences on generic drugs manufacturing, or how little protection it gives to our geographical indications.
This agreement might have major consequences on citizens' lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade."
Regardless of this the EU did sign on to the treaty and a ratification process awaits.
At least those lucky Europeans get to have an opportunity to effect the process by pestering their representatives about ratification. Unfortunately, we in the United States will not get that opportunity.
Want to know the reason that Americans are going to be deprived of the opportunity to participate in our customary democratic process regarding this issue?
President Obama has decided unilaterally that ACTA is an "executive agreement" and not a treaty, thus there is no need for the Senate to ratify it.
Ordinarily, treaties need to be submitted to the US Senate for ratification, but the Obama administration has adopted the novel (and, some have argued, constitutionally dubious) approach of declaring ACTA an "executive agreement" that can be adopted unilaterally by the executive branch, as it ostensibly does not alter existing US law.
Apparently Mr. Obama is going to issue another signing statement. Here's why he's wrong:
Thus, the administration argues that there doesn't need to be a Senate review because no laws will be changed. This is, of course, wrong, since ACTA (1) does not align itself fully with US laws and (2) massively constrains Congress's ability to change certain intellectual property laws in the future. Furthermore, this basic argument is ridiculous. The President is only allowed to sign executive agreements that cover items solely under the President's mandate. Intellectual property is not. It's clearly given to Congress under the Constitution.
Mr. Obama is making two tragic mistakes here, First, taking the politically maladroit position of signing a flawed treaty that when publicized will offend a large portion of the electorate. Second and more importantly, if he gets away with this high-handed approach to treaties, surely less savory successors to his office will do the same thing with similarly (or possibly more) odious treaties.
Your action is needed. Contact Mr. Obama and tell him to stop this abomination, and also take this opportunity to sign on to this petition.
Update: it appears that Mr. Obama would like to double down.