Senators Sanders and Brown ask White House to make ACTA text public

Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have written to USTR, asking that the ACTA text be made public. The strongly worded letter was sent to Ambassador Ron Kirk, the head of the United States Trade Representative, an office of the White House.

The letter states:

ACTA involves dozens if not hundreds of substantive aspects of intellectual property law and its enforcement, including those that have nothing to do with counterfeiting. . . . There are concerns about the impact of ACTA on the privacy and civil rights of individuals, on the supply of products under the first sale doctrine, on the markets for legitimate generic medicines, and on consumers and innovation in general.”

The letter says “the public has a right to monitor and express informed views on proposals of such magnitude.”

Senators Sanders and Brown say the ACTA negotiations have not been conducted in a manner consistent with the President’s January 21, 2009 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. Noting in closing:

We are surprised and unpersuaded by assertions that disclosures of basic information about the negotiation would present a risk to the national security of the United States, particularly as regards documents that are shared with all countries in the negotiations, and with dozens of representatives of large corporations. We are concerned that the secrecy of such information reflects a desire to avoid potential criticism of substantive provisions in ACTA by the public, the group who will be most affected by the agreement. Such secrecy has already undermined public confidence in the ACTA process, a point made recently by Dan Glickman, the CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – a group highly supportive of the ACTA negotiation, as well as by the members of the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue — a group more critical of the negotiations.

We firmly believe that the public has a right to know the contents of the proposals being considered under ACTA, just as they have the right to read the text of bills pending before Congress.