There’s a reason you don’t hear much about international trade agreements. They are kind of dull, and they’re usually not very controversial. But the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is different.
"One feels that you’re almost in a bit of a twilight zone," says Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. "I mean, we’re talking about a copyright treaty. And it’s being treated as akin to nuclear secrets."
For several years, the United States and other developed countries have been quietly working on ACTA. Geist has been one of the loudest critics of the proposed pact. He says it’s a counterfeiting agreement in name only, and he thinks the treaty would actually change some of the fundamental rules governing the Internet. But what makes Geist really angry is the way it’s been negotiated.
"Virtually none of it has been open to the public," Geist says. "Even the early meetings were actually held in secret locations, so no one even knew where they were taking place."