We've been covering the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for two years now, and in that entire 24 month period no official text of the agreement has been released. Remarkable, really, given the intense scrutiny, but there you have it.
Today, that all changed as the countries behind ACTA finally released a consolidated draft text*(PDF) of the agreement. Though billed as a "trade agreement" about "counterfeiting," ACTA is much more than that: it's an intellectual property treaty in disguise.
New to this draft is an option, clearly targeting European law, that would explicitly allow Internet disconnections
Tucked inside the draft are provisions that will prevent people from bypassing digital locks on the items they buy, that will force ISPs to shoulder more of the burden in the fight against online piracy, and that bring US-style "notice-and-takedown" rules to the world.
Well, not to the world, exactly. ACTA is more like a select club of countries: Australia, Canada, the European Union countries, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States of America. But the treaty it develops is really just the next rung on a ladder stretching back to 1886, and it will certainly be wielded like a weapon on the rest of the world in the future.
The text is not final—that is due to happen later this year—so if you want to see changes made, the time to act is now. After a year of partial leaks and finally complete leaks, ACTA's basic outlines are familiar.
We'll start our ACTA deep dive with an overview of the key provisions, especially as they relate to the Internet. Stick around afterwards to understand how and why we have ACTA at all, some likely effects of the treaty, and thoughts on the negotiating endgame.