Friday, March 13, 2009
Last September, the Bush administration defended  the unusual secrecy over an anti-counterfeiting treaty being negotiated by the U.S. government, which some liberal groups worry could criminalize some peer-to-peer file sharing that infringes copyrights.
Now President Obama’s White House has tightened the cloak of government secrecy still further, saying in a letter this week that a discussion draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and related materials are “classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.”
The 1995 Executive Order 12958  allows material to be classified only if disclosure would do “damage to the national security and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage.”
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
Jamie Love, director of the nonprofit group Knowledge Ecology International , filed the Freedom of Information Act request that resulted in this week’s denial from the White House. The denial letter (PDF)  was sent to Love on Tuesday by Carmen Suro-Bredie , chief FOIA officer in the White House’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Love had written in his original request on January 31–submitted soon after Obama’s inauguration–that the documents “are being widely circulated to corporate lobbyists in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. There is no reason for them to be secret from the American public.”
The White House appears to be continuing the secretive policy of the Bush administration, which wrote to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (PDF)  on January 16 that out of 806 pages related to the treaty, all but 10 were “classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.”