Government Keeps ACTA Consultation Results Under Wraps

Earlier this year, many Canadians were taken aback by reports of a secret trade agreement that conjured up images of iPod-searching border guards and tough new penalties for every day activities.  The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, currently being negotiated by Canada, the United States, Japan, the European Union, and a handful other countries, generated sufficient public concern such that then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice specifically denied any links between the treaty and proposed new legislation.

While the ACTA debate has largely disappeared from the public radar screen, the negotiations continue. Over the summer, I reported about attempts to establish a private consultation committee composed of industry groups that excluded public interest organizations.  The status of the consultation committee remains unknown, but my latest technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports on newly obtained documents [13 MB] under the Access to Information Act that provide additional insights into the secretive nature of the negotiations as well as the results of a limited public consultation conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs in the spring.

The documents confirm that two countries – the United States and Japan – have emerged as the primary supporters and drafters of the treaty.  Countries have met three times in recent months to discuss elements of the treaty with those two countries providing draft treaty language to the other participants just prior to the formal meeting. For example, in late May, the U.S. and Japan forwarded draft treaty language on new border measures provisions to the Canadian delegation, two weeks before a round of talks in Washington.  According to Australian officials, subsequent meetings in Geneva and Tokyo addressed statutory damages and criminal provisions for unauthorized camcording. The next meeting is set for Brussels in early December with Internet issues on the agenda.

Although bits of information about the meetings have leaked out, participating countries have gone to great lengths to keep the negotiations under wraps.  Countries are prohibited from discussing the substance of the discussions and all documents are subject to strict confidentiality conditions.  Secret negotiations are common for trade agreements, however, international intellectual property agreements have traditionally been conducted in a more open and transparent manner.

The internal government documents also shed light into the results of a brief Canadian consultation on ACTA.  Launched in April 2008, the Department of Foreign Affairs consultation invited the public to express their views on the treaty and the negotiation process (a difficult chore given the limited public information currently available).

While the Foreign Affairs has yet to publicly reveal the results of the consultation (the department even refused to share individual submissions with other Canadian government departments), an internal draft report summarizing the responses notes that "individual Canadian citizens were generally critical of Canada’s role in the formal negotiation of ACTA." Individual responses cited the lack of transparency associated with the process, the absence of evidence that a new treaty is needed, the exclusion of developing countries from the negotiations, and the concern that ACTA might undermine Canadian law.

The consultation also generated responses from 13 Canadian business associations.  Many received personal invitations to participate in the consultation from government departments as Canadian Heritage alone notified 23 groups it considers its stakeholders.  These business groups were not only generally supportive of ACTA, but some asked for the inclusion of provisions that would necessitate significant changes to Canadian law.  For example, one submission recommended provisions mandating that Internet service providers terminate Internet access in cases of repeated allegations of infringement.  Another asked that the treaty make no distinction between penalties for commercial and non-commercial infringement.

To date, it appears that ACTA is pushing Canada toward a host of new international commitments that are drafted by officials in Washington and Tokyo with virtually no public input. With the next round of negotiations only weeks away, these new revelations reinforce the necessity for new Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore to open the process to greater public scrutiny and discussion.


  1. I say we round u these traitors and execute them.
    The entire goal of secret meetings is in effect to break current law by changing the ones we have.

    IS that not like me thinking of murdering osmeone , hten asking around for various ways to do it?
    AND eventually settling on a quick and painful method of a hammmer would not the instant you pick up that hammer with intent be liable of something?

    Would these facists that my grandfather fought against in WORLD WAR 2, not realize that we defeated once such a system with blood. That to try it again will only result in a permenant dismantling of there power structure.

  2. addons
    I was once approached in college about doing a website for a certain foreign govt that told me they could not tell me even what they wished me to create as it would in effect violate canadian law.

    As it turns out it was a website that promotoed people to use there country as a tax haven.
    Suffice it to say that if even speaking a some things gets one into trouble, its a bit more here as current laws may prohibit what they do(HENCE THE SECRACY) they know that some smart person may relaize that discussing breaking of laws with the intent to break themm in ANY serious manner could be seen as an indictable offense.

    P.S. “u” = UP

  3. Dwight Williams says:

    No thank you, Chronoss.
    Public condemnation may yet be useful if carefully applied. I don’t think we need to resort to your suggestion to achieve the denial of ACTA.

  4. Dwight Williams says:

    As for these negotiations themselves…
    …I want to see them opened up to the public at large. I want full transparency and accountability on this.

  5. I knew that this post would attract a “Chronoss” reply
    Do something more useful.

  6. Your not going to get either of your wishes, they know what they do is wrong.

    YOU are the types that allow it.
    Shame on both of the two above posters.
    YOU would devalue my grandfathers sacrifices in the month to honer them is another indication that you are not the kind that will win this battle.

    It is a new war, a war for human rights, dignity and caring, in a world gone George bush mad. See how that works for him and those republicans down south.

    as for useful:
    OH you mean like the proposal of 3 pages regarding SAC, that used Linux to save Canadians over 1.8 billion a year as we head into recession?
    actually talking to people everywhere about this as i travel to a doctor( for pain medicines for a psiatic nerve) and guess what NOT ONE HUMAN BEING has ever disagreed with me. In fact I am getting responses like, “if you were to run for election i’d vote for you”. Does it now sounds impossible?

    Why aren’t there more independents? They could get more and more power and form a pseudo coalition so that there ridings get what they are after.

    AND how about that lil anti circumvention part of bill c61 that i brought up about NON COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL that was on a DVDR that was copied off ( DIGITAL LOCK NOW BROKEN) and you get a 20000 fine.

    YOU do realize that almost 95% of movie content on p2p is a dvdrip? YOU do realize that a fair chunk a tv in season sets is dvdrips, you do realize that a lot a music is also ripped off DRM crap.

    AND then you say to me that i do nothing that i should do something useful?

    Look inward to thine own self before you speakith.

    Even Mr Geist was FOR TPM a form or measure of DRM that’s on the hardware level, i’ve seen the repesentations and at a year or two ago it was and everyone there agreed that its just a new fancy pants term for UNLOVED UNWANTED DRM.

    OH and have any of the two above actually talked to artists, have you been in the industry at all.
    NA didn’t think so, just more noobs tlaking out there ass again.
    “have a nice day we’re going to win this in the end”

  7. Chuck the Canuck says:

    Okay. Chronoss, please use the Firefox browser; I believe it conforms with your beliefs in the merits of open source software. It also has a rather good spell checker built in.
    You cannot stop an entire generation from doing what they do. It will be very difficult to arrest the entire population of any ACTA-member country.
    These scum are terribly scared for their jobs and their old way of doing things. All these old men will have their last shot at holding back the future; then they’ll be gone, flushed away like physical media and finite copies.
    A world where cultural works can be distributed instantly around the world is the logical progression after postal mail and the telephone. The only way to stop this from continuing it’s spread is to implement a full-on global police state, worse than any other. Possibly worse than many had it when your grandfather fought for their freedom. Even China with it’s great firewall can’t stop the internet from working as it is supposed to. Now that people can see things like this ACTA controversy happening as they happen the people won’t ever accept a growing police state if they can see it happen; they will see it happening because it is no longer just the large media companies that supply the news. For example, this site here posts news that I can’t find anywhere else, and having the information on this site affects my opinions of the world in general and how I think.
    This leads conveniently into my next question: where do you get the idea that Mr. Geist is for any kind of TPM or DRM? Please post reputable links to back up your hearsay. Thanks.

  8. and what can they prove?
    chronoss I see your comments a lot, most of your opinions are a little exaggerated from the facts but this time I agree with you on one thing: every new law that a government tries to pass in the name of “security” is just a new way of taking away our individual rights and freedoms (which many have died for including some of my family as well).

    I dont think countries like the US can afford to prosecute hundreds of thousands of people who cross their border daily with Ipods or HDs full of content, what also concerns me is how they could possibly determine if a file has infringed or if you have obtained it legally by fair dealing.

    e.g. person ‘A’ buys music from website, person burns music to cd, followed by deleting the files and gives to person ‘B’ as a gift for their birthday. Person ‘B’ crosses the border and a “quick” intrusive ‘infringement’ trace (from a library of drm traces no doubt) search reveals copyrighted material despite obtaining legally.
    How do boarder guards intend to prove person B infringed anything?

  9. I’ve seen some of his talks that were video’d and played on that cable channel that sat users get that has the parliament stuffs. HE talked about needs of balancing TPM’s and such and in lawyer speak most do not understand. Well i can tell you this its already unbalanced toward the TPM and DRM makers.

    And ya know mr firefox noob, funny how some words still get that red underline , guess it like DRM is perfect….
    In fact when i brought it up ( check the very early faircopyright stuffs ) tons a people even tried to say
    that TPM isn’t DRM and all that. Funny how the SCO Linux lawsuit(s) showed us when the SONY crap hit the fan that the new buzz word was TPM back then…and we all agreed TPM = DRM. I also agree however that these old tired men are like hollywood in there last gasps a air. Every year more of THEM die actually off.

    I have said it elsewhere that the longer we can hold them off the better and quicker the world will heal and recover. ( THINK FEDERATION – STAR TREK )

    As too enforcement, they are getting there. These lil secret meetings are meant to completely circumvent the democratic systems and they have used past laws to combat a few nuts in the middle east with sticks and stones to do it, all while padding there wallets.

    All this bill c61 really took to defeat if you can even take a moment to wiki , is for one man with balls or a few, to get as much 1958 or before dvdripped material and turn them selves in on account the law is against the charter of rights and freedoms section 12. Perhaps we should not tell them such things so when they do such things it gets struck down and we get longer delays, but the last parliament the liberals showed no balls what so ever.

    Talk about expanding faircopyright globally would also begin to raise eyebrows and unify OUR goals of freedom and fairness. I have no problem with an artist making a buck, if he/she deserves too and there music is worth it. Its the big labels we no longer need and haven’t needed for what almost 15 years? 15 years technology and cultural enhancement has been held back by lawyers and greedy businessmen.
    15 years people have suffered, and you think after the American experiment we will idly sit buy and just TALK about it? we need at minimum do what the Calgary chapter did and show up WHERE ever these politicians are in public and make noise. No matter how cold , how hot, how far how long we have to travel or endure.


    Ironically the Ndp gets 20% of the vote and what 38 seats yet the bloc Quebecois get 9.98% and gets what 50 or so? The greens get nothing?
    That’s like telling 20% OR ONE FIFTH OF 33 MILLION PEOPLE of your country SCREW YOU.
    remember the Quebec BS when those globalization talks came to town , this is just another extension of the same thing.
    AND as to proving your infringing its called you have to have a receipt or the stuff on computer carry a DRM that proves you are allowed it. They will have a dbase that will check versus KEYS so you use someone elses your pwned.

  10. also
    the anti circumvention was so vague, that it could apply TO ANY LOCK that is manufactured. Including:
    House locks
    Door locks
    Car door locks
    Any lock made by a human.
    That means if they find a way to actually enforce it (LOL) then all one has to do is:
    lock yourself out of the house and break in to get a 20000$ fine
    It will now increase the cost of opening your locked car door as the guy who does that will need to:
    A) get your permission as per the privacy law to:
    A-1) goto the manufacturer and get there written permission to open the door.
    A-2) then do all this paper work and prove he followed procedure.

    Lock your self out of the house? na never. OK now your going ot have to call the door lock manufacturer and get written permission to break the TPM er lock on the house door. guess what that adds to htis economy.
    And someone said copyright is supposed to benefit society and is there to give the artist SOME compensation.

    NOW were going to start seeing opensource hardware on car doors, houses , other doors, and other types a locks. YAAAA by then i’ll be well dead and buried the ice caps will have melted and california will be under water…..

    and how about someone going over to faircopyright once a year and cleaning up the spam….

  11. Sickening
    The 3 strikes rule is a total bullshit. Many people, including me, use the internet exclusively as its mandatory for their employment. Suddenly I’m at risk of losing my job and rights at the hands of the entertainment industry over something I _MAY_ or _MAY NOT_ of done? How many times have holders of internet connections been wrongly accused based solely on an IP address? Please, I’d love to see how fast the lawsuits would fly on this one. Legislation like this isn’t gonna last long in France, never alone a totally wired country like ours. The Canadian government needs to wake the hell up and stop trying to sell us out to the big corporate entertainment fatcats of America. Of all the bullshit they came up with to try and take our rights away, the 3 strikes rule has to be the biggest pile of crap ever conceived, right up there with DRM.

    Down with draconian corporate copyright Christmas wishlists. (aka ACTA)

  12. Encryption
    Encryption is the key my friends…. We will have to encrypt anything that we send over the Internet. I think that will be the solution.

  13. chronoss I dont know if youve been through the justice system in canada but fortunately the burden of proof is on the prosecution. A drm library of traces doesn’t prove you infringed anything. It simply means you were caught with a digitally locked product so what? Most intelligent people steer clear of that junk. so how can they (the prosecution) prove where/how you obtained that product? They CANT unless theirs video evidence of you circumventing a lock. Ignorance is the best defense. Some people may be dumb enough to allow anyone to remotely connect to their computer while breaking a pathetic lock, or obtaining a product through whatever methods.
    Even then as stated by ‘Spike’ IP != proof

    Use FIREWALLS and IP blocklists… up to date a/v and a/s also help… if they manage to circumvent that to prosecute you theyve violated your right to privacy and probably many other indictable offenses.

    In the end it doesn’t really matter because our courts are already being pushed to the limit. The average time it takes for a conviction is up to 6 months. So if millions of canadians are doing it do you really believe our court system could handle it? I think not. I have been in court and seen posession of a controlled substance charges dropped for maybe 5-6 youths each day (from the days I was there over a period of 7 months). It isn’t realistic, or feasible the same as BS pot charges. Get a grip your not going to be thrown in jail or even see a trial for breaking a lowsy digital lock I hope our elected representatives understand this and make the right decision to disband from these negotiations.

    if Canada signs ACTA I volunteer to be the first to stand at the US/CAN border with an ipod full of Rick Astleys rick-roll doing the side-to-side. If they arrest me it will be an epic precedent!

  14. and i dont know if you have actually followed law and yes i have when YOUNG been through that so called innocent till proven sham of a system.

    The latest terrorist laws are awful awful examples of no due process , unfair rights and what if your found innocent? LIKE go wiki.
    Section 12 Charter of Rights.

    IN fact, if canada signs onto acta I’m Leaving. CYA.
    GO read what mussalini said what facism is.
    Go on, mr conservatives that read this, dare to call me on whats really happening. GO for it.
    I can’t even do what i do internationally for business in canada because of the same greed in canda because pricing here is 10 times that of europe.

    We in canada are continuing to listen to idiots who are just wanting to keep you RIGHT where you are.
    A new form a slavery. As to POT there is enough evidence to say that prolonged use harms you.
    I don’t do drugs. I know people who have for years, and ya they get a bit freaky.

  15. BLAH BLAH talk is cheap they say, whatch what happens this time around!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    OH and i’ve even been arrested once for something that i never should have so i know the feeling of what people are going to feel when they get a shock that the 500$ download ONLY APPLIES to NON DRM’d MUSIC, as literally everything else is a dvdrip ( breaks circumvention measures)
    The fight is on , and as this discussion heats up sanity will give way to the conservatives being bought out, and guess what this is harpers secret plan to stay out of recession? FINE everyone?
    HA Better get cash for tons a more jails, as the avg time in jail when you cant pay a fine = 1 day for 25$ with a maximum of 1 day = 10$
    A rapist will get less time in jail then a person watching a tv episode?

  16. now your just fear mongering…. and totally debased the argument. You have to be sensible despite these proposed regulations/legislations being the opposite.

  17. and pot was just an example of possessing something but with no proof of actually comitting a crime against society similiar to… FILE SHARING

    now comparing a rapist to watching a tv show thats quite the argument. /facepalm

  18. Law suit?
    Isn’t EFF suing US Goverment over ACTA seecrecy. Couldn’t we do the same here?

  19. Privacy Commissioner
    As ironic as it sounds, wouldn’t the Privacy Commissioner be the best person to appeal to as their duty is to verify that Canadian’s privacy is withheld?

    Should be interesting if the PC asks for access to the proposed legislation to verify for privacy violations simply to be told “Nope”.

  20. Section 12 , CRUEL and UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT
    There was article on p2pnet that states a rapist got 2 years in prison as did a guy that cammed a movie.

    Which is worse you tell me. Which provides enjoyment to society , and which really harms.

    you do know that most of the people that file share are not of the richer variety?

    you do know that otherwise if you make it literally impossible to get then they won’t be buying anything off you anyhow?

    So the argument then falls on why? JUST CAUSE IT IS ANOTHER WAY FOR SOME RICH FAT BASTARD TO BOTHER PEOPLE? YA well i ain’t gonna take it PERIOD. This continued erosion of my rights and freedoms has made me not just bitter but very angry.

  21. good posts everyone
    OH and notice how well i can spark up things around here, haha

  22. Yeah, nice thread going!
    Marcus said: “chronoss I dont know if youve been through the justice system in canada but fortunately the burden of proof is on the prosecution.”

    Ummmm, not always.

    They could use the precedent like the “Uttering a threat” charge where he *only* evidence needed for a charge and conviction up to 14 years is the person *knows* the alleged victim. They don’t really have to prove anything.

    At the stroke of a pen, any of us can become “most wanted” criminals. I for one would rather be convicted of something I did.

    Oh and chronoss – you just keep shouting your mind. At least THAT is still legal here 😉


  23. Antidote not included
    “Safety in numbers” in not a good defense; in fact, it’s not even a defense, but rather a strategy to run, hide, and wait for the attackers to waver. The truth is the attackers increase their voracity, when facing little opposition. It is not wrong nor right to hope the enemy doesn’t attack; it’s just unwise to hope to win with an enemy staying home. The new strategy is not to defend your innocence, but to settle out-of-court.

    The entertainment cartels do not perceive their actions as wrong. Contrarily, they know they’re doing right because they gain from it, so to them, it cannot be wrong. It’s only you, the consumer, who are wrong to condemn their actions right after you consume from them. If you ingest poison, the consequences are sickness to even death. Thus, consuming entertainment from the cartels is quite similar to ingesting poison; and the government lobbying and the backroom deals are the consequences of consuming entertainment from the cartels. It cannot be any simpler than this.

    The guy who camcord a movie should receive the death penalty, for he’s not helping anyone, except the entertainment cartels advertise their fix to addicts. Some guy promoted Ubisoft on here as a Canadian hero of gaming software is/was laughable, only seeing they have their copyright lobbyists in government about a decade ago, if not longer.

    When iTunes started selling, it had DRM. Instead of rejecting the DRM completely, people were extatic to trade for a little more freedom that iTune’s DRM offered compared to the competition’s DRM. Then, DRM got popular through iTunes with people who couldn’t escape their iFix. Then, DRM got popular in iPhones, and again, people couldn’t escape their iFix. Oh well, DRM it is.

  24. ATIP requests
    I noticed in the ATIP logs that somebody requested all sorts of ACTA docs last November. Any idea who it was or if they every got anything back?