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Secret Treaty?
Is the US negotiating a secret anti-counterfeiting treaty? Should diplomatic negotiations be subject to FOIA lawsuits? The answers are: no and no.

The blogosphere is all a-twitter over a "secret international treaty" being negotiated by the United States, the European Union, New Zealand and other industrialized countries to protect intellectual property. It would be a great secret except for the fact that the US Trade Representative not only announced last year that the U.S. "and some of its key trading partners will seek to negotiate an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)" but also sought public comments on the issue through a Federal Register notice.

As is the case for virtually all diplomatic negotiations by every country, the US has not released the specific details of their ongoing discussions. According to a senior USTR official, no draft agreement has been released because not yet exists. Nonetheless, two NGOs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge, have gone to court in an attempt to force public disclosure of confidential diplomatic documents.

While the lawsuit has little chance of succeeding, the notion that diplomatic discussions should be subject to FOIA is peculiar and disturbing. If EFF and PK were to have their way, US participation in serious international negotiations on all subjects would be effectively halted, resulting in an economic, political and national security catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

EFF and PK have the right to disagree with USTRís view that "global counterfeiting and piracy steal billions of dollars from workers, artists and entrepreneurs each year and jeopardize the health and safety of citizens across the world." The NGOs do not, however, have the right to sabotage the very mechanism of diplomacy.

See USTR Press Release

See PC World article

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