ACTA, un accord négocié à notre insu : la fin de nos libertés sur Internet? photo 3

ACTA, un accord négocié à notre insu : la fin de nos libertés sur Internet?

Qu’est-ce qu’ACTA ?

ACTA est une offensive de plus contre le partage de la culture sur Internet. ACTA est l’Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ou accord commercial anti-contrefaçon), un accord négocié secrètement entre 2007 et 2010, dans l’ombre et en gardant le public dans l’ignorance plutôt que débattu démocratiquement.

Jusqu’à 2010, toutes les informations relatives à ACTA ont été des fuites qui révélaient le secret intentionnel pour dérouter le public.

ACTA contourne les parlements et les organisations internationales pour imposer une logique répressive dictée par les industries du divertissement en créant de nouvelles sanctions pénales forçant les acteurs d’Internet à surveiller et à censurer les communications en ligne.

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The Glorious Revolution of 1688

The Glorious Revolution of 1688

  1. The Reformation in the British Isles
  2. English Expansionism
  3. The Glorious Revolution of 1688
  4. The American colonies : Religion and Politics
  5. USA: Birth of a Nation


Civic liberties and parliamentary institutions represent one of the major cultural legacies England left to the civilization of the world.

The first document protecting individual liberty and the prototype of the modern Parliament appeared in England as early as the 13th century. However, effective protection against arbitrary power and the first parliamentary regime emerged much later in the 17th.

However, the modern notion of democracy, which implies full political citizenship for everyone (no one deprived of the right to vote) took a much longer time to take route in Britain than elsewhere in the world.

The pioneer of Parliamentarism took the slow road to universal suffrage. As the American claim for independence and liberty showed in the late 19th century, English liberty celebrated by the most famous philosophers (Voltaire and Montesquieu) was more a myth than a reality.

Origins of Parliament and Civil Liberties

In Britain, there is no written constitution to protect civil liberties and define the rules of the political game. Yet, several traditions, constitutional agreements and political conventions exist and constitute the pillars of the regime.

One of those documents is the Magna Carta (Great Charter) granted by King John in 1215 under the pressure of his aristocracy and clergy. This document excluded very early in English history the practice of political absolutism and excessive use of the royal prerogative).

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Electoral inequalities : the Road to Male Suffrage photo

Electoral inequalities in Victorian England: the Road to Male Suffrage

  1. The Poor Law Amendment Act (1834)
  2. Victorian philanthropy in 19th century England
  3. Electoral inequalities in Victorian England: the Road to Male Suffrage
  4. Ante Bellum, Inter Bella : Legislation and the Depression
  5. More electoral inequalities : the Road to Female Suffrage
  6. The Beveridge Report: a Revolution?
  7. The Welfare State: an end to poverty and inequality ?
  8. The Affluent Society : poverty rediscovered?
  9. Inequality and Race
  10. Inequality and Gender
  11. The Thatcher Years : the individual and society
  12. Inequalities in Britain today

Before 1832, the electoral system in Great Britain was confused: there were County seats, Borough seats, “scot and lot” seats (where any adult male who paid local poor rates could vote), “potwalloper” seats (where every resident male of at least 6 months standing who was not a pauper could vote) and of course “rotten boroughs”.

Eventually, after a long struggle (cf The Peterloo Massacre in 1819), the First Reform Act was passed by a Whig Government in 1832, which resulted in an extension of male suffrage for England: in county seats to those owning freehold property worth at least 40 shillings per annum and those leasing or renting land worth at least £50 per annum; in borough seats to those owning property worth at least £10 per annum with provisions.

There were also changes in the distribution of seats: 56 borough constituencies lost their representation entirely, 30 boroughs lost one of their two members, 22 new Parliamentary boroughs were created with two members, 19 new Parliamentary boroughs were created with one member and county representation increased. Similar measures affected Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

However, many working-class men felt they had gained nothing from this legislation: they only saw a small increase in the electorate to the advantage of the middle class. There followed a period of agitation, referred to as Chartism.

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Definitions : the State, the Nation, Home Rule and Devolution photo

Scotland: the State, the Nation, Home Rule, and Devolution

  1. Scotland: the State, the Nation, Home Rule, and Devolution
  2. The Act of Union of 1707
  3. Scottish Home Rule
  4. The rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP)
  5. The Scottish Parliament
  6. Scotland: the Road to Independence

The State and the Nation

For Benedict Anderson, Nations are “imagined communities”: it means that there is a will of the people to do things together and this group of people is so large that people cannot know every member: hence, they imagine the other members like them, sharing the same value.

The State is an independent polity, a political unit with a fully independent legislature. Scotland is not a State but she is a Nation.

Until 1999, Scotland was described as a “stateless nation”. Now it has a legislature: she is referred to as a “partially-stated nation”.

Home Rule – Devolution

“Home Rule” is a concept developed by the Liberal Party at the end of the 19th century. The whole concept was “Home Rule All Around” (i.e. Home Rule in the UK).

Then, it meant self-government (independence, autonomy), and later: devolution proposals of the Labour Party.

For Scotland, Home Rule means Scotland governed by Scots in Scotland: it underlines Scotland’s sovereignty. On the other hand, devolution underlines the sovereignty of the British State.

Vernon Bogdanor defines devolution as “the transfer of powers from a superior to an inferior political authority. Devolution may be defined as consisting of three elements:

  • the transfer to a subordinate elected body
  • on a geographical basis
  • of functions at present exercised by ministers and Parliament

The Scotland Act of 1998 set up the Scottish Parliament, its rules etc. Section 28: “This section does not affect the power of the British Parliament to make laws for Scotland”.

In theory, the British Parliament can still make laws for Scotland in Education for instance. The Scottish Parliament is subordinated to the British Parliament.

  • Devolved areas: education, health, environment…
  • Reserved areas: defence, foreign affairs, constitution…

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The Scottish Parliament photo

The Scottish Parliament

  1. Scotland: the State, the Nation, Home Rule, and Devolution
  2. The Act of Union of 1707
  3. Scottish Home Rule
  4. The rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP)
  5. The Scottish Parliament
  6. Scotland: the Road to Independence


On May 1st 1997, a general election took place in the UK. It was won by the Labour Party after 18 years of Conservative Government (1979-1997).

The political programme of the Labour Party included a vast number of constitutional reforms and manifestos:

  • devolution (power to the regions) to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and English regions (wide range).
  • reform of the House of Lords.
  • incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.

The Labour Government was for devolution because there were demands for more autonomy (yet not the same demands):

  • Scotland: Parliament (law-making body)
  • Wales: Assembly
  • Northern Ireland: Assembly and power-sharing executive between Catholics and Protestants.

The Scotland Act

September 11th 1997: referendum in Scotland on devolution. Majority of “Yes” votes. The Scottish Bill was introduced and validated. It became the Scotland Act in 1998, which defines the Scottish Parliament, and its rules…

The next stage was the 1st Scottish General Election. Donald Dewar, who had been Secretary of State for Scotland in Tony Blair’s Government became the First Minister of Scotland. Labour did not have a majority and allied with the Liberal-Democrats (coalition executive).

Between mid-May and the end of June, the Scottish Parliament met regularly but it was officially opened by the Queen on July 1st, 1999.

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The Act of Union of 1707 photo

The Act of Union of 1707

  1. Scotland: the State, the Nation, Home Rule, and Devolution
  2. The Act of Union of 1707
  3. Scottish Home Rule
  4. The rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP)
  5. The Scottish Parliament
  6. Scotland: the Road to Independence


Scotland was never conquered by England. There were attempts but they failed. At the end of the 13th century, the wars of independence began.

On May 1st 1707, the Act of Union was ratified between England and Scotland: the Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament were suspended. They created the British Parliament and formed Great Britain by the Union of Scotland and England.

At the time, Scotland was already a protestant country (the Reformation came in the 16th century, before then she was catholic). As England was also protestant, the two nations grew closer.

The Queen chose several men to represent Scotland and England in a commission to discuss the terms of the Treaty of Union. Several Acts and events precipitated the Union.

1698 – 1699: expeditions to Darien

It was a total failure for the Company of Scotland :

  • Scotland lost trading opportunities with France (due to the Reformation),
  • the Navigation Acts (1660-1663) prevented Scotland from trading with English colonies.

In England, the East-Indian Company had monopole and money. Hence, Scotland wanted the same: that is how the Company of Scotland was set up in 1695. Its full name was “Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies”.

The East Indian was not very happy and put pressure on English financiers who wanted to provide money to the capital of the Company of Scotland. The financiers finally withdrew and the Scots had to provide money themselves: a multitude of people giving little money.

The Company of Scotland established a trading post in America: Darien, in the Isthmus of Panama. 1698 saw the 1st expedition to Darien. It was a terrible failure for many people died during the journey and by fighting against the Spaniards already settled there.

The 2nd expedition was also a failure and the people who had invested in the enterprise were ruined, just like the company. After that experience, the Scots thought the best thing would be a union with England (no more Navigation Acts and access to colonies trading).

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