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Senator demands Congressional vote on ACTA

'No vote, no ratification' of anti-piracy treaty

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Democratic senator and stalwart campaigner on internet issues Ron Wyden (D-OR) has introduced an amendment to ensure that the purportedly anti-piracy ACTA treaty currently being ratified in Europe is put to a legislative vote in the US.

"The President may not accept, or provide for the entry into force with respect to the United States of, any legally binding trade agreement that imposes obligations on the United States with respect to the enforcement of intellectual property rights, including the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, without the formal and express approval of Congress," reads Wyden's amendment to H.R. 3606, aka the JOBS Act.

If successful, the amendment would force the administration to take a vote on ACTA, and opponents of the treaty on both sides of the chamber will be anxious to express a view. It's an election year, so the Republicans would be happy to see Obama take a fall (even though the bulk of ACTA negotiations were conducted during George Bush's presidency), and many Democrats, such as Wyden, have profound reservations about the treaty.

The current administration has taken the view that ACTA is merely a trade agreement, and as such isn’t subject to congressional approval. ACTA negotiations were largely conducted in secret, and the European Parliament and Congress were kept out during the negotiating stages. However, as opposition to SOPA and PIPA mounted among the general populace, concerns in both legislatures have been on the rise.

Two weeks ago, Republican congressman Darrell Issa published the full text of the treaty, and the European Parliament will vote on ACTA this summer. Germany, Poland, and others have said they will wait on ratification of ACTA until after the European vote, after facing particularly strong protests domestically. With SOPA, PIPA, and RWA all now failed, internet rights groups will be keen to get another scalp – and this vote might just give it to them. ®

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