BBC | EU proposes taking 10% of every citizen of Cyprus’ money out of their bank accounts without their consent.
Today at 12:56 CET, the European Parliament decided whether ACTA would be ultimately rejected or whether it would drag on into uncertainty. In a 478 to 39 vote, the Parliament decided to reject ACTA once and for all. This means that the deceptive treaty is now dead globally.
This is a day of celebration.
This is the day when citizens of Europe and the world won over unelected bureaucrats who were being wooed and lobbied by the richest corporations of the planet.
The battleground wasn’t some administrative office, but the representatives of the people – the European Parliament – which decided in the end to do its job beautifully, and represent the people against special interests.
The road to today’s victory was hard and by no means certain.
478 against, 39 in favor and 165 abstentions
What lead us here?
Six months ago, the situation looked very dark. It was all but certain that ACTA would pass unnoticed in silence. The forces fighting for citizens’ rights tried to have it referred to the European Court of Justice in order to test its legality and to buy some time. But then, something happened.
A monster by the name of SOPA appeared in the United States. Thousands of websites went dark on January 18 and millions of voices cried out, leaving Congress shell-shocked over the fact that citizens can get that level of pissed off at corporate special interests. SOPA was killed.
In the wake of this, as citizens realized that they don’t need to take that kind of corporate abuse lying down and asking for more, the community floodlights centered on ACTA.
The activism carried over beautifully to defeat this monster. Early February, there were rallies all over Europe, leaving the European Parliament equally shell-shocked.
The party groups turned on a cent and declared their opposition to ACTA in solidarity with the citizen rallies all over the continent, after having realized what a piece of shameless mail-order legislation it really was, to the horrors of the corporate shills who thought this was a done deal. Those shills tried, tried hard, tried right up until today, to postpone the vote on ACTA past the attention of the public and the activists.
Alas, they don’t understand the net. And there’s one key thing right there: the net doesn’t forget.
Parliament members right after the vote
But the key takeaway here is that it was us, the activists, that made this happen. Everyone in the European Parliament are taking turns to praise all the activists across Europe and the world for drawing their attention to what utter garbage this really was, not some run-of-the-mill rubberstamp paper, but actually a really dangerous piece of proposed legislation. Everybody thanks the activists for that. Yes, that’s you. You should lean back, smile, and pat yourself on the back here. Each and every one of us has every reason to feel proud today.
What comes next?
In theory, ACTA could still come into force between the United States and a number of smaller states. Ten states have been negotiating it, and six of those need to ratify it to have it come into force. In theory, this could become a treaty between the United States, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland. (But wait, the Mexican Senate has already rejected ACTA. As has Australia and Switzerland in practice. Oh well… a treaty between the United States and Morocco, then, in the unlikely event that the United States will actually and formally ratify it. You can see where this is going.)
As described before on TorrentFreak, without the support of the European Union, ACTA is dead. Doesn’t exist.
The European Commissioner responsible for the treaty, Karel de Gucht, has said that he will ignore any rejections and re-table it before the European Parliament until it passes. That’s not going to happen. Parliament takes its dignity very seriously and does not tolerate that kind of contempt, fortunately. This is something relatively new in the history of the European Union’s democracy – the first time I saw Parliament stand up for its dignity was during the Telecoms Package, where the Commission also tried to ram through three-strikes provisions. (Instead, Parliament made “three strikes” schemes illegal in the entire European Union.)
That said, many of the bad things in ACTA will return under other names. For the lobbyists, this is a nine-to-five job of jabbing against the legislation until it gives way. Just another day at work. We need to remain vigilant against special interests who will return again, again, and again, until we make sure that the legislative road for them is completely blocked. We must remain watchful.
But not today.
Today, we celebrate a job extraordinarily well done.
Today, on July 4, Europe celebrates a day of independence from American special interests.
Today, we stood up for our most basic rights against corporate giants, and won.
Congratulations to all of us, and thanks to all brothers and sisters on the barricades across the world who made this happen.
(This article is also posted on falkvinge.net.)
You are all potential terrorists. It matters not that you live in Britain, the United States, Australia or the Middle East. Citizenship is effectively abolished. Turn on your computer and the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center may monitor whether you are typing not merely “al-Qaeda,” but “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative” and “organization”: all proscribed words. The British government’s announcement that it intends to spy on every email and phone call is old hat. The satellite vacuum cleaner known as Echelon has been doing this for years. What has changed is that a state of permanent war has been launched by the United States and a police state is consuming Western democracy.
What are you going to do about it?
In Britain, on instructions from the CIA, secret courts are to deal with “terror suspects.” Habeas Corpus is dying. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that five men, including three British citizens, can be extradited to the US even though none except one has been charged with a crime. All have been imprisoned for years under the 2003 US/UK Extradition Treaty which was signed one month after the criminal invasion of Iraq. The European Court had condemned the treaty as likely to lead to “cruel and unusual punishment.” One of the men, Babar Ahmad, was awarded 63,000 pounds compensation for 73 recorded injuries he sustained in the custody of the Metropolitan Police. Sexual abuse, the signature of fascism, was high on the list. Another man is a schizophrenic, who has suffered a complete mental collapse and is in Broadmoor secure hospital; another is a suicide risk. To the Land of the Free they go - along with young Richard O’Dwyer, who faces ten years in shackles and an orange jump suit because he allegedly infringed US copyright on the Internet.
As the law is politicized and Americanized, these travesties are not untypical. In upholding the conviction of a London university student, Mohammed Gul, for disseminating “terrorism” on the Internet, appeal court judges in London ruled that “acts … against the armed forces of a state anywhere in the world which sought to influence a government and were made for political purposes” were now crimes. Call to the dock Thomas Paine, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela.
What are you going to do about it?
The prognosis is clear now: the malignancy that Norman Mailer called “pre fascist” has metastasized. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, defends the “right” of his government to assassinate American citizens. Israel, the protégé, is allowed to aim its nukes at nukeless Iran. In this looking glass world, the lying is panoramic. The massacre of 17 Afghan civilians on 11 March, including at least nine children and four women, is attributed to a “rogue” American soldier. The “authenticity” of this was vouched by President Obama himself, who had “seen a video” and regarded it as “conclusive proof.” An independent Afghan parliamentary investigation produced eyewitnesses who give detailed evidence of as many as 20 soldiers, aided by a helicopter, ravaging their villages, killing and raping: a standard, if marginally more murderous, US Special Forces “night raid.”
Take away the videogame technology of killing - America’s contribution to modernity - and the behavior is traditional. Immersed in comic-book righteousness, poorly or brutally trained, frequently racist, obese and led by a corrupt officer class, American forces transfer the homicide of home to faraway places whose impoverished struggles they cannot comprehend. A nation founded on the genocide of the native population never quite kicks the habit. Vietnam was “Indian country” and its “slits” and “gooks” were to be “blown away.
The blowing away of hundreds of mostly women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai in 1968 was also a “rogue” incident and, profanely, an “American tragedy” (the cover headline of Newsweek). Only one of 26 men prosecuted was convicted and he was let go by President Richard Nixon. My Lai is in Quang Ngai Province where, as I learned as a reporter, an estimated 50,000 people were killed by American troops, mostly in what they called “free fire zones.” This was the model of modern warfare: industrial murder.
Like Iraq and Libya, Afghanistan is a theme park for the beneficiaries of America’s new permanent war: NATO, the armaments and high-tech companies, the media and a “security” industry whose lucrative contamination is a contagion on everyday life. The conquest or “pacification” of territory is unimportant. What matters is the pacification of you, the cultivation of your indifference.
What are you going to do about it?
The descent into totalitarianism has landmarks. Any day now, the Supreme Court in London will decide whether WikiLeaks’ editor, Julian Assange, is to be extradited to Sweden. Should this final appeal fail, the facilitator of truth-telling on an epic scale, who is charged with no crime, faces solitary confinement and interrogation on ludicrous sex allegations. Thanks to a secret deal between the US and Sweden, he can be “rendered” to the American gulag at any time. In his own country, Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has conspired with those in Washington she calls her “true mates” to ensure her innocent fellow citizen is fitted for his orange jump suit just in case he should make it home. In February, her government wrote a “WikiLeaks Amendment” to the extradition treaty between Australia and the US that makes it easier for her “mates” to get their hands on him. She has even given them the power of approval over Freedom of Information searches - so that the world outside can be lied to, as is customary.
What are you going to do about it?
This word was used by the copyright industry, to try to get citizens to do their bidding. Honest. Could you believe that today? This industry dared take that word in their mouths?
For some time, it may actually have worked. Not for us who worked with technology and knew sharing as natural and human, and who set the standards of tomorrow, of course, but I got the perception that “following the law” was associated with “being honest” in parts of the population.
That quickly waned.
People realized that “being honest” had absolutely nothing to do with “accepting serfdom in a rigged system” and “doing the wishes of a thoroughly corrupt industry”, quite regardless of the wording of mail-order legislation that had been created at the copyright industry’s persistent tantrums. Following the law and obeying the monopoly became the opposite of being honest.
So the concept of honesty in the debate was replaced by one of humanity and friendship – that good people share, regardless of larger ramifications to society.
As that went on for a few years, more and more people realized that the sky wasn’t falling as had been claimed. Moreover, culture and small bands actually benefited greatly from circumventing the previous gatekeepers. The ramifications weren’t negative. They were overwhelmingly positive.
This view was reinforced by the copyright industry’s attacks on all alternate distribution channels that allowed creative artistry to bypass the middlemen’s skimming of the 90-95% of the pie that they had previously grabbed for themselves.
Something else happened, too: old digital formats went out of fashion. The industry-issued copies became unplayable, especially with silly playback protection methods that never work anyway. All of a sudden, us who had shared culture had done something more; we had also preserved culture. If it weren’t for the so-called pirates, our cultural diversity would have been lost on technology’s scrapheap.
So sharing became a matter of being responsible as a citizen. Sharing culture was not only a good deed in humankind, it was also taking civil responsibility for preservation of our common heritage, a responsibility that neither the industry nor governments took on themselves to fulfill.
But the copyright industry’s war on the people continued.
A very astute observation by Ithiel de Sola Pool in a book from 1984 noted that the copyright monopoly can’t survive in the digital age as it creeps into our everyday activities without heavily regulating conversation itself. This is exactly what the copyright industries have tried to do, and therefore, this monopoly and its industry have become an enemy of our very freedom of speech.
By 2010, about half the population was directly or indirectly involved in this preservation or sharing of culture: many in a household gain from one person taking such civic responsibility. In Europe, that means 250 million people. Put another way, it means 250 million votes.
250 million European votes trump 250 million Euros in lobbying money, every single time.
And so, with the copyright industry’s outright war on the people, on our culture, and our civil liberties, we have arrived at a point where responsible citizens not only share and preserve culture, but also act in defense of society to destroy the copyright industry.
Every act towards that goal helps, and is now an act of everybody’s civic responsibility. 250 million Europeans doing something small every day to destroy this corrupt industry that stands between us and our future makes a lot of difference at the end of the day.