Why Obama Really Classified the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

You’ve heard that Obama is citing national security to justify keeping the terms of a new international copyright treaty secret. The treaty would allegedly criminalize peer-to-peer sharing, make iPods searchable at the border, and allow internet service providers to monitor their customers’ communications.

If the only participants in the treaty negotiation were governments and internet service providers, then there might be some argument (no matter how far-fetched) that the treaty really does involve national security. For example, it could really be some back-door way to catch terrorists on the internet.

But it is common knowledge that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have had a large hand in drafting and revising the language of the treaty. The RIAA and MPAA are solely concerned with maximizing the profits of their members from record and movie sales. These folks are obviously not in the anti-terrorism business. They presumably don’t have any national security clearance.

Moreover, any argument that the treaty is being kept secret for authentic national security reasons evaporates the minute you learn that the “cleared advisors” who have been allowed to view the treaty allegedly also include:

  • A lawyer specializing in business planning and taxation
  • A law firm “representing a biotechnology industry organization”
  • The Intellectual Property Owners Association
  • The Entertainment Software Association
  • The U.S.-China Business Council
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Time Warner
  • Eli Lilly
  • Wal-Mart
  • General Motors
  • Monsanto
  • IBM
  • Dupont

Rather than keeping the contents of the treaty away from people who would harm the U.S., it seems that the national security classification is more for the purpose of keeping the details of an outrageous treaty away from the American people.

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