Published in Editorials

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Still a Threat to Basic Internet Rights

by on16 May 2013 1800 times
despd

It looks like the US wants to export something new to the world, now we are not talking about a technology. We are talking about our draconian copyright laws. You remember those nasty laws that the entertainment industry and software companies keep extending and expanding. For years our government has tried to be the police for these groups with laws like SOPA, PIPA Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection act and more. Well they are trying to force other countries to adopt these same rules and using trade agreements to do it. They have already been stopped once with ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) when they tried to remove the rights of individual countries to establish their own laws and are at it again with the Trans Pacific Partnership.

At the center of these agreements sits the US Trade Representative. The USTR negotiates trade agreements and treaties in behalf of the US. This one individual has a large amount of power to create and negotiate agreements and can do so with very little congressional oversight if needed. This office can operate in almost complete secrecy to get what they want in their treaties. With both ACTA and TPP these treaties were drafted without input or oversight from Congress, but there was plenty of input from corporations and their political action groups. The MPAA, RIAA, and even the BSA were able to push for what they wanted while the public and Congress were locked out.

Now if this sounds all wrong to you then you are not alone. It has been one of the sticking points about the USTR over the last few years. They have had zero transparency yet have been trying to extend US corporate interests to other countries. These interests include the same type of restrictions, monitoring and controls that bills like SOPA and PIPA contain. On top of that, as we mentioned above, they also prohibit any signing member from altering their own laws to block, or avoid the provisions of these treaties. To make matters worse we do not even know the whole scope of TPP, we only have what has been leaked out by sources inside the USTR.

Meanwhile the US DoJ at the request of the Whitehouse has been going berserk to find and prosecute the people leaking this information. They have gone so far that they even subpoenaed phone records from The Associated Press without the usual notification to management. Many are seeing this as an indication that the administration is trying to hid their misdeeds and considering the information that is flowing out recently they could be close to the mark. This new attention that is being paid to the flow of information out of the US Government is concerning as it could mean the end of warning about future attempts to remove basic rights to privacy on the internet and indeed in your own homes all in the name of propping up copyright.

It is a frightening time for anyone using the internet as we continue to hear about these types of laws and agreements being pushed for in the US. It is even more worrisome that some agencies are claiming that they do not need to get warrants or have probable cause to intercept and seize your email, text messages or personal information. They say that because it is stored online you do not own or have a right to keep that data secret. These are the same guys that broke the laws in New Zealand and other countries including domain seizures all in the name of protecting copyright. Where and how did things go so far off course? Without getting into it too deeply copyright, patents and trademarks were meant to protect an inventor and allow him to recapture their investment in a creation. Now copyright and patents are used as legal tools to lock out the competition and to maintain a revenue stream. Their original meaning has been corrupted and twisted into something that stifles innovation and progress. Sadly the USTR wants to further this around the globe with treaties like ACTA and TPP.

You can read more about TPP and ACTA from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

What do you think about TPP and the way the USTP is pushing it? Tell us in our Forum

Last modified on 16 May 2013
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