For the past year or so, there's been a lot of talk but not much information about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an apparently draconian international trade policy being worked out in secret between the US, the EC, and about a dozen other countries.
Rumors and leaks suggested that, if ratified, the treaty would allow border officials to scan our computers, phones, MP3 players and so forth for unsanctioned material, and that potential punishments would include confiscation of hardware and even imprisonment. Of course, anyone halfway familiar with the uneasy relationship between technology and IP law knows that, under the best of circumstances, such a policy would create massive quantities of additional clusterfuck at border crossings, and would likely further allow governmental and commercial institutions to erode our personal privacy and diminish our civil liberties in the name of "protecting creators," whatever that means.
This is not mere paranoia, incidentally; this weekend, I attended a conference at Columbia University at which Ana Mara Ochoa and Carolina Botero documented cases of "terrorism" suspects being arrested and detained under counterfeiting laws as a loophole around due process.
At any rate, the office of the US Trade Representative has finally released what I believe is the first official acknowledgment of ACTA, in the form of a very vague description of the treaty's proposed elements. Thankfully, the document gives some lip service to civil liberties:
However, the devil, as they say, is in the details; even looking at this sanitized, abbreviated version of what will no doubt be far thornier and more problematic legislation, I shudder with dread. The PDF is available for download from the USTR site; I recommend you take a look.