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The ACTA Document and Obama Transparency

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Thursday April 09, 2009
There are many reports about the release this week of an ACTA summary document that was first made available on the USTR website.  These articles suggest that this reflects new support for transparency from the Obama administration.  While it may be true that the administration supports greater transparency, making that connection in this case is misleading.  The document is a negotiated text between all the ACTA countries (this was made clear in the DFAIT consultation).  Some countries (Canada among them) are supportive of greater transparency, others are not.  It is not entirely clear where the U.S. stands.  Moreover, it is not just the U.S. that made the document available - all ACTA partners are entitled to do so (the Canadian version is here).  Finally, while it is not a bad document, there is still far more information available online from non-governmental sources.  A commitment to transparency would mean making available actual documents including draft text and "non-papers" used as the basis for discussion.
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