Internet Era Is Not Kind to Authoritarian TPP
By Staff News & Analysis - January 06, 2015

It Was a Pivotal Year in TPP Activism but the Biggest Fight Is Still to Come … A draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership's (TPP) Intellectual Property chapter from May 2014 leaked this past fall, confirming what previous leaks had suggested: this so-called trade agreement would bring copyright enforcement provisions that threaten users' right to free expression, privacy, and unfettered access to knowledge online. – Electronic Freedom Foundation

Dominant Social Theme: They are moving this important treaty along quickly. It's probably good for all of us.

Free-Market Analysis: It's been pointed out elsewhere on the Internet that the resumption of TPP talks last month was not exactly top news in the Western media.

You would think the Western media would be covering this world-changing negotiation, as it affects the flow of information over numerous platforms and severely restricts what can be presented without compensation.

But negotiations started up again in Washington early in December with hardly a word in the mainstream press. The Times of Japan was about the largest media property to cover it.

Nonetheless, as we learn from the EFF article excerpted above, 2015 should bring the matter to a head whether or not the mainstream media wishes to cover the negotiations.

A positive note: Politicians and industrialists are trying gain more control of the 'Net at this late date under the glare of a good deal more publicity than they would like. Such is the desperation to do the deed …

Here's more from the EFF:

This leaked text also revealed new terms on the misuse of trade secrets. These are dangerously vague and could be used to enact harsh criminal punishments against anyone who reveals or even accesses information through an allegedly confidential "computer system." This language could have alarming consequences if it obligates nations to enact new laws that could be used to crack down on journalists and whistleblowers. It's no wonder TPP negotiations continued to be as secretive as ever this year—policymakers are taking advantage of back-room policymaking to criminalize the very people who help public interest groups like EFF understand what's contained in these agreements.

The major fight in the US was a campaign to defeat "fast track." Fast track authority, also known as trade promotion authority, is a legal mechanism whereby Congress hands its Constitutional mandate to set the agenda and negotiate the terms of trade agreements over to Obama and the US Trade Representative. If fast track passes, the US Trade Representative could pass agreements like TPP and other deals like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with even less public oversight. In January, two of the most Hollywood-friendly Senators introduced it in a bill called the "Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act."

Following a joint effort with various public interest groups and individuals across the country, we collectively sent hundreds of thousands of messages to US lawmakers, calling on them to oppose fast track. We helped convince some leading Senators to come out against it and the bill eventually fizzled. But another fast track bill was inevitable, so we continued our campaign. Digital rights organizations were joined by over 25 technology companies to call on US lawmakers to oppose the passage of fast track authority. Then in September, we delivered a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden to fix the secretive, Hollywood-captured trade process.

2014 was a major year in our fight against TPP, but we're expecting it will all come to a head in the new year. Public statements from the White House and Republican lawmakers have reiterated their resolve to introduce and pass new fast track legislation in the coming months. At the same time, the US Trade Representative has hinted that it plans to finalize the TPP in 2015.

We mentioned the TPP several times before and most recently in an interview with Gerald Celente. You can see it here:

Gerald Celente: Threatening Western Freedoms With Trans-Pacific/Atlantic Treaties

Celente commented:

They're selling the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its European sister, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as though they're trade deals and they're not. It's a multinational takeover. There are plenty of trade deals in place, and it's estimated that very, very few pages of this agreement have anything to do with trade.

But we don't know all the details because we the people – in the country that supposedly exports democracy and is the beacon of freedom – we're not allowed to look at it, and neither are the senators and congressman.

The only people working on it are the multinational corporations. What this does is takes away sovereign rights of nations and they become overruled by multinational regulations and laws. The multinationals become the rulers of your country. And not only in terms of trade and commerce but also in basic sovereign rights going down to freedom of speech.

A previous Electronic Frontier Foundation post explained the TPP as follows:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:

… (1) Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users' freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples' abilities to innovate.

… (2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.

The twelve nations currently negotiating the TPP are the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Brunei Darussalam.

All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the US, this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of US copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA]) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. The recently leaked US-proposed IP chapter also includes provisions that appear to go beyond current US law.

The deal would also further restrict "fair use" and treat "temporary reproductions of copyrighted works without copyright holders' authorization as copyright infringement."

The EFF comments that this "language reveals a profound disconnect with the reality of the modern computer, as all routine computer functions rely upon the regular creation of temporary copies of programs and files. As drafted, the related provision creates chilling effects not just on how we behave online, but also on the basic ability of people and companies to use and create on the Web."

Obviously, there are powerful entities behind the two treaties that want them passed. Sometimes sub-dominant social themes can be discerned by the absence of information. Such would seem to be the case with these treaties.

After Thoughts

Fortunately, the Internet has alerted a mass of concerned citizens about these negotiations. The Internet Reformation is not kind to such secrecy.

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