Interesting Op-Ed by Goldsmith/Lessig on the ACTA


There’s been a whole lot more press on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement since the leak earlier this week.  The treaty, which has been debated amidst tight security remains officially undisclosed to any public forum.

In light of the recent leak, there has been a very interesting opinion piece posted on the Washington Post’s website by Harvard Law professors Jack Goldsmith and Lawrence Lessing concerning the possibility that US President Obama may invoke a special Presidential power to enact the treaty within the US without any consent from either houses of Congress.  From the article in question:

[1] “Normal constitutional procedures would require the administration to submit the final text of the agreement for Senate approval as a treaty or to Congress as a "congressional-executive" agreement. But the Obama administration has suggested it will adopt the pact as a "sole executive agreement" that requires only the president’s approval.”

“If the president succeeds in expanding his power of sole executive agreement here, he will have established a precedent to bypass Congress on other international matters related to trade, intellectual property and communications policy.”

There certainly will be some kind of challenge.  From Ars Technica:

[2] “The US has positioned ACTA as an executive agreement rather than a treaty. Such a move means that ACTA doesn’t need Senate approval, but it also means that the agreement should not alter US law, either. If you want to change the law, you go to Congress.”

No matter what we (continue) to hear about this “treaty”, I keep coming back to one essential point – why the secrecy?  Why not debate the merits of this in a public forum? 

This isn’t a matter of national security or any other matter which would require closed doors, and it directly affects the constituents of all potential signatures to the treaty – we (or those who represent us) have a right to be part of this process.  We have a right to have a say in how our countries are governed.

Could the ACTA be considered any more sinister?  This is bad news, folks.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032502403.html

Further reading

[2] http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/03/harvard-law-profs-theres-a-lawsuit-coming-over-acta.ars


About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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