President Obama Doesn’t Support SOPA, But Signs ACTA?

    January 25, 2012

Move over SOPA, tell ACTA the news? Or is this more of a case of “move over SOPA, it’s ACTA time?” Or does, “Stop! ACTA time!” work? For me, it’s “just when you thought it was safe to go back on the web, ACTA happens.” That’s right folks, while SOPA/PIPA were being placed in the ditch as smoldering husks, President Obama signed the ACTA “treaty,” which is, at its most elementary, a multinational agreement that addresses intellectual property enforcement.

There are many issues involved with President Obama’s signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — which occurred in September 2011 — and whether or not it should be treated as an executive agreement or an actual treaty between the agreeing countries. With an executive agreement, the President does not require the approval of the Senate, whereas, with a treaty, Senate approval is required. That, however, is not the issue, especially when you consider the initial zeal with which the both houses of the U.S. Government supported SOPA and PIPA.

Until the protestation blackouts, that is.

As for ACTA, there hasn’t been a great deal of push back from the Senate concerning President Obama’s signature, although, perhaps there should be. As TechDirt points out:

The law is clear that the only things that can be covered by executive agreements are things that involve items that are solely under the President’s mandate. That is, you can’t sign an executive agreement that impacts the things Congress has control over. But here’s the thing: intellectual property, in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, is an issue given to Congress, not the President.

Does this mean President Obama overstepped his boundaries by signing ACTA? If you follow the letter of the law, as laid out by TechDirt, then yes, yes he did.

Perhaps that what explains one of the latest White House petitions, asking for ACTA to be submitted to the Senate for “Ratification as Required by the Constitution for Trade Agreements.” As you can see, the petition takes the position that ACTA is indeed a treaty and because of that, President Obama’s signature is not enough for the United States to be apart of. From the petition’s page:

The Administration has opposed SOPA and PIPA due to the damage these laws could do to the Internet. But many view the Anti-Counterfeiting Trace Agreement (ACTA) to be far worse.

This Administration supported the negotiation of ACTA in secret with a selected group of nations and with input from many corporate interests. The public and consumers were excluded from this process. FOIA requests were denied because of “National Security” concerns.

We object to the Administration’s negotiation of ACTA in secret, and approval of ACTA by Executive Agreement.

Considering the White House’s stance on both SOPA and PIPA, not to mention, Vice President Biden’s own words about regulating the Internet, which are available in the following video:

…The fact that President Obama signed such an inflammatory piece of legislation is disheartening. Does this mean the only reason the White House spoke out against the infamous acts was because the backlash was so loud? Does this also mean that because the American public, or, at least, those who “reside” on the Internet, is still largely silent concerning ACTA and the potential damage it can do, President Obama didn’t see the harm in signing it?

Of course, if ACTA does have to go to the Senate before its ratified, will it meet any resistance? Any at all?