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Nix the Patriot Act, the TPP, and Every Other Government Racket!

The U.S. Congress is going to act regarding the expiration of the unconstitutional Patriot Act, by renewing it, letting it expire, or replacing it with a rearranging the deck chairs act of legislation (“USA Freedom Act”), or just temporarily extend the Patriot Act. Patrick Eddington of Reason says that the NSA’s spying is a “cancer” on the Constitution, which is true, but it is more a cancer on our freedom and security. Judge Andrew Napolitano says it has to go, and I agree. After all, how secure are we when our own government treats innocent non-suspects as criminals? And should we really trust government bureaucrats with those arbitrary powers to invade and intrude into our private lives? Of course not. Only a gullible fool would do such blind trusting. And that is why the writers of the U.S. Constitution at least attempted to protect our liberty with the Bill of Rights.

Sen. Rand Paul says that he will try to force the Patriot Act to expire tonight. Paul wrote on his Twitter page, “I do not do this to obstruct.” However, I want as much obstruction of these security shysters’ criminal acts as possible. The more obstruction of Washington’s criminal intrusions the better!

A similar situation is going on with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) wheeling and dealing anti-free trade deal that’s being promoted as “free trade.” As Zero Hedge pointed out, it appears that the hacks in Congress are getting a good degree of bribes from Goldman Sachs and other government cronies to pass this TPP scam. And Zero Hedge also pointed to a major Washington trade negotiation advisor, Michael Wessel, who actually entered that secret little room where the secrets of the TPP are being kept secret, and who read the secret specifics of the negotiations. Wessel noted that he could be sent to prison for revealing the secrets or even telling his readers what his concerns about it were that he told Obama. I think that if this Wessel person had any real guts, he would just openly write or state exactly what’s in this scam deal and why it’s bad. Or how about Rand Paul? He was also in that secret little room and who also read the secret details, but who is also bound by secrecy to protect the Regime’s illicit secret plans.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this “trade” partnership is so secret because, given that its provisions demolish due process, it will be used by the “national security” apparatus to impose more and more restrictions on freedom of expression and compromise Internet users’ own privacy and security, and more. And it will also be used by the crony corporatists to restrict Internet users’ “fair use” of copyrighted material for non-commercial purposes. The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes about the TPP:

The TPP Will Rewrite Global Rules on Intellectual Property Enforcement

All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the US, this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of US copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA]) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. The recently leaked US-proposed IP chapter also includes provisions that appear to go beyond current US law.

The leaked US IP chapter includes many detailed requirements that are more restrictive than current international standards, and would require significant changes to other countries’ copyright laws. These include obligations for countries to:

  • Place Greater Liability on Internet Intermediaries: The TPP would force the adoption of the US DMCA Internet intermediaries copyright safe harbor regime in its entirety. For example, this would require Chile to rewrite its forward-looking 2010 copyright law that currently establishes a judicial notice-and-takedown regime, which provides greater protection to Internet users’ expression and privacy than the DMCA.
  • Escalate Protections for Digital Locks: It will compel signatory nations to enact laws banning circumvention of digital locks (technological protection measures or TPMs) [PDF] that mirror the DMCA and treat violation of the TPM provisions as a separate offense even when no copyright infringement is involved. This would require countries like New Zealand to completely rewrite its innovative 2008 copyright law, as well as override Australia’s carefully-crafted 2007 TPM regime exclusions for region-coding on movies on DVDs, video games, and players, and for embedded software in devices that restrict access to goods and services for the device—a thoughtful effort by Australian policy makers to avoid the pitfalls experienced with the US digital locks provisions. In the US, business competitors have used the DMCA to try to block printer cartridge refill services, competing garage door openers, and to lock mobile phones to particular network providers.
  • Create New Threats for Journalists and Whistleblowers: Dangerously vague text on the misuse of trade secrets, which could be used to enact harsh criminal punishments against anyone who reveals or even accesses information through a “computer system” that is allegedly confidential.
  • Expand Copyright Terms: Create copyright terms well beyond the internationally agreed period in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TPP could extend copyright term protections from life of the author + 50 years, to Life + 70 years for works created by individuals, and either 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation for corporate owned works (such as Mickey Mouse). Read more about the TPP Copyright Trap.
  • Adopt Criminal Sanctions: Adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation. Users could be jailed or hit with debilitating fines over file sharing, and may have their property or domains seized even without a formal complaint from the copyright holder.

In short, countries would have to abandon any efforts to learn from the mistakes of the US and its experience with the DMCA over the last 12 years, and adopt many of the most controversial aspects of US copyright law in their entirety. At the same time, the US IP chapter does not export the limitations and exceptions in the US copyright regime like fair use, which have enabled freedom of expression and technological innovation to flourish in the US. It includes only a placeholder for exceptions and limitations. This raises serious concerns about other countries’ sovereignty and the ability of national governments to set laws and policies to meet their domestic priorities.

What could possibly go wrong?

All these policies, the post-9/11 hysteria Patriot Act totalitarianism, the TPP and other “trade” deals, are really all about gangsters and shysters using the armed force of government to intrude themselves into the lives of others, and harming innocent people. These schemes are criminal schemes. They are rackets. They are excuses for control freaks and psychopaths to cozy up to the officialdom of the Rulers and the ruling apparatus to commit their crimes against others.

One other example, as given by former DEA agent David Hathaway, is how President Richard Nixon, a.k.a. “Tricky Dick,” was forced to sign legislation to defund U.S. military aggressions against Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, on the same day Nixon created the DEA (and thus the “War on Drugs”) by executive diktat, sans authorization from Congress.

As Sheldon Richman wrote just recently, the real choice we have now is between government and liberty. How about it, readers, which one do you choose? Government? Or liberty?

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