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Personal Computers [“PC’s]- are they becoming no longer personal?

The Obama administration is currently working with a group of UN nations on the development of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade agreement, ACTA. The new law is being developed in secrecy from the public and might allow government access to personal content on hard drives thought to be a breach of copyright. Copyright infringements have been a civil matter, but thus far Obama’s administration now wants to criminalize it, labeling these infringements as a development of “national security”. Richard Stallman, an American software freedom activist criticizes the government’s secret act as a “war on sharing.” ACTA Copyright issues have been a problem for years, but have never been viewed as a threat to national security. The new amendment will grant access to the government so that they have the ability to seize personal information found on certain items such as laptops. For example, border guards might be granted unlimited power to search travelers’ computers without warning. Essentially, the government will be able to search, copy, and confiscate any material that resides on someone’s computer. This amendment will allow government access to citizens’ computers thought to be breaching the copyright law, promoting the amendment as a security issue to advance their control of the public and break down remaining barriers for citizens and their personal freedom.

Student Researcher(s): Claire Apatoff, Erin Kielty, Tom Rich

Faculty Evaluator: Dave Berque, Professor of Computer Science, DePauw University

Faculty Instructor: Professor Kevin Howley


“A not-so-private PC.” 26 Mar. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.

“Obama passing new law to allow searching of PC’s, Laptops, and media devices.” Video blog post. RussiaToday.Com. Web. 17 Nov. 2009. <>.

“Canada and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).” Web log post. The Canada’s World Blog. 30 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.

Pegoraro, Rob. “Copyright overreach goes on world tour.” Washington Post 15 Nov. 2009, Financial sec.: G01. Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.

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