Proposed NAFTA-like agreement would turn border guards into copyright cops

This is so unbelievable, so repugnant to basic principles of privacy and prohibitions against illegal search and seizure that I can only let the news speak for itself. But to put it in context, here is Wikipedia's entry on Canada's version of the Fourth Amendment:In Canada, Section Eight of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all individuals from unreasonable search and seizure.

This is so unbelievable, so repugnant to basic principles of privacy and prohibitions against illegal search and seizure that I can only let the news speak for itself. But to put it in context, here is Wikipedia's entry on Canada's version of the Fourth Amendment:

In Canada, Section Eight of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. For a search to be "reasonable" it must be authorized by law, the law itself must be reasonable, and the manner in which the search was carried out must be reasonable (R. v. S.A.B., 2003 SCC 60). This means that the officer must be acting within the power of a valid statute, and it must be performed on the basis of there being "reasonable and probable grounds" that a crime has been committed.

As you read this, remember that this is just the Canadian take on what is in fact a agreement in which the U.S. and European countries – as well as Canada – would all participate. I don't know if Congress would have to approve this agreement, but this article says the Canadian Parliament would not. OK, here you go, from the Vancouver Sun:

The federal government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws which could make the information on Canadian iPods, laptop computers or other personal electronic devices illegal and greatly increase the difficulty of travelling with such devices. The deal could also impose strict regulations on Internet service providers, forcing those companies to hand over customer information without a court order.

Called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the new plan would see Canada join other countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, to form an international coalition against copyright infringement.

The agreement is being structured much like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) except it will create rules and regulations regarding private copying and copyright laws.

Federal trade agreements do not require parliamentary approval.

The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.

The agreement proposes any content that may have been copied from a DVD or digital video recorder would be open for scrutiny by officials - even if the content was copied legally.

The leaked ACTA document states officials should be given the "authority to take action against infringers (i.e., authority to act without complaint by rights holders)." Anyone found with infringing content in their possession would be open to a fine. They may also have their device confiscated or destroyed, according to the four-page document.

The trade agreement includes "civil enforcement" measures which give security personnel the "authority to order ex parte searches" (without a lawyer present) "and other preliminary measures."

On top of these enforcement efforts, ACTA also proposes imposing new sanctions on Internet service providers. It would force them to hand over personal information pertaining to "claimed infringement" or "alleged infringers" - users who may be transmitting or sharing copyrighted content over the Internet. ...