And we thought SOPA was shady doings.

CONGRESS WAS READY to pass a vague, rhetoric-filled bill that could have potentially destroyed the Internet as we know it. People protested. Major sites blacked out. Politicians did unprecedented 180s. It was all rather amazing.

Except that while the US was busy freaking out (and with good reason) over SOPA and PIPA, an international trade agreement that’s been in the works for years was finalized behind closed doors and, as of yesterday, passed by the European Commission.

So what is ACTA?

ACTA is an international trade agreement currently being negotiated by the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Australia as well as a few other countries, whose aim is to enforce copyright and tackle counterfeited goods (hence its acronym: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).

This video does a great job of simplifying yet another convoluted agenda:

Like SOPA, this agreement is not without its critics. Much of the discontent is not only due to the content of ACTA, but also to the fact that it has been intentionally kept secret from the public. According to Forbes, Kader Arif, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for ACTA, actually resigned for this reason. Arif stated:

“I condemn the whole process which led to the signature of this agreement: no consultation of the civil society, lack of transparency since the beginning of negotiations, repeated delays of the signature of the text without any explanation given, reject of Parliament’s recommendations as given in several resolutions of our assembly.”

The outcry has been particularly great in Poland, which has seen thousands of protestors fill the streets this week. Members of the Polish parliament even held Guy Fawkes masks to their faces during an assembly in protest of ACTA.

Same bullshit, different package, and this time it’s international – and it’s passing. The entertainment industry is desperately trying to save its antiquated business model by lobbying governments to control the Internet, rather than facing facts: it’s time for an entire new game plan, because the Internet changed everything.