Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the panel’s senior Republican, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, have asked trade negotiators not to make the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) too specific.
In an Oct. 2 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Leahy and Specter said they were concerned that the agreement was being drafted in such detail that it could limit congressional flexibility to deal with intellectual property and related issues in the future. The senators also said their concerns were compounded by the “lack of transparency” that goes along with trade agreements and by the speed of the negotiating process.
They also specifically asked Schwab to steer clear in the trade agreement of issues surrounding liability of Internet Service Providers and of technological protection measures. The senators said: “The contours of the law and liability exposure in these areas continue to be debated in the courts and in Congress. As technology is not static, Congress must have the ability to tailor the law as developments warrant without concern that a change may run afoul of ACTA.”
Schwab should not “rush into” a new trade agreement without Congressional involvement, the senators said.
A copy of the letter is here.
We have long been concerned about the secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiations, which is why PK and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued USTR for documents so that we could find out what’s going on behind the doors that are closed to us, but open to the business community that is pushing the trade agreement.