Months before the debate about Internet censorship raged as SOPA and PIPA dominated the concerns of web users, President Obama signed an international treaty that would allow companies in China or any other country in the world to demand ISPs remove web content in the US with no legal oversight whatsoever. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was signed by Obama on October 1 2011, yet is currently the subject of a White House petition demanding Senators be forced to ratify the treaty. The White House has circumvented the necessity to have the treaty confirmed by lawmakers by presenting it an as “executive agreement,” although legal scholars have highlighted the dubious nature of this characterization. You can learn more about ACTA here.
Under the provisions of ACTA, copyright holders will be granted sweeping direct powers to demand ISPs remove material from the Internet on a whim. Whereas ISPs normally are only forced to remove content after a court order, all legal oversight will be abolished, a precedent that will apply globally, rendering the treaty worse in its potential scope for abuse than SOPA or PIPA. A country known for its enforcement of harsh Internet censorship policies like China could demand under the treaty that an ISP in the United States remove content or terminate a website on its server altogether. As we have seen from the enforcement of similar copyright policies in the US, websites are sometimes targeted for no justifiable reason.