iPods, iPhones, laptops and other digital devices could be seized by customs officials worldwide under a new top-secret copyright policing deal being worked out between the G8 nations, reports claim.

Nations including Canada, the US and various European states (including the UK, which sits on the G8) are secretly agreeing a new pan-global state police deal in which information held on iPods and other devices could be subject to investigation by customs officials tasked with a new role, as copyright police.

Dubbed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), signatory nations will form an international coalition against copyright infringement.

The deal’s up for discussion at the next G8 meeting in Tokyo in July, It creates rules and regulations to govern private copying and copyright laws, and posits the founding of an international regulator, “that would turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police,” reports Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and other Canadian media outlets.

These copyright police would be given the job of checking laptops, iPods, iPhones and other personal devices for content that “infringes” on copyright laws, “including ripped CDs and DVDs”. To make this Stalinist proposition even more annoying, front line security staff will be empowered to decide what content infringes on copyright laws. And also makes any content copied from DVD or a digital video recorder open to scrutiny by officials.

It’s likely these lunatic new proposals are being drawn up in secret in order to outflank any outcry by privacy advocates or any true intellectual discussion as to whether such protectionism should be applied in favour of content creation firms.

Officials will be able to levy fines or seize goods even in the absence of any complaints by rights holders. And searches will be allowed even without a lawyer present. And ISPs will be forced to hand over personal information on any alleged copyright infringers – no actual proof will be required. And, to make it even more Orwellian, ACTA will be unaccountable to any existing trade organisation, effectively meaning the RIAA and other such bodies will run a public/private international police force with the right to search, fine and confiscate property without any accountability. Local Canadian privacy advocates point out that governments have been privately negotiating these new proposals without consultation, and that the proposals revealed yesterday only surfaced due to the application of freedom of information type laws.

The European Commission has now published a "fact sheet" concerning this legislation, while not disclosing the measures confirmed by major Canadian media as being under discussion, you can read this document online here.

 

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