• United States



SOPA supporters meet in secret to strangle Internet freedom & online speech

May 14, 20125 mins
Data and Information SecurityIntellectual PropertyMicrosoft

Behind closed doors, big SOPA supporting corporations are negotiating a massive trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and sneaking in an intellectual property chapter that will strangle online speech and choke off Internet freedom. There is zero transparency as 'they' don't want us, or Congress, to know what's in the TPP IP section so we don't go all ninja netizens again like we did to stomp out SOPA/PIPA.

I was so proud of “us,” the Net, for what we accomplished in stomping out SOPA/PIPA, even though a former DHS cybersecurity dude who wishes to remain anonymous warned me that the fight was nowhere close to over and to expect it to be pushed through under another name and this time much more secretly. Sure enough, a trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has an intellectual property (IP) chapter that is being worked out behind closed doors to keep us in the dark so we don’t go all ninja netizens again. There is zero, zippy, negative, none as in transparency and that includes public input since only large companies are in-the-know. “Like ACTA, the TPP is being negotiated in secret, and on a fast timetable.” The EFF is urging us to demand a Congressional hearing so lawmakers, “not just deep-pocketed industry representatives,” can learn what’s in the TPP.

If you don’t know about the TPP or don’t know why you should care, stop for 1.5 minutes and watch this video explaining how bad ideas are snuck into the intellectual property (IP) chapter.

While Eurasia Review suggested that SOPA on steroids is what is really being created in the secret US meetings, Techdirt calls a report referenced in the TPP “a load of hogwash,” and the letter [PDF] signed by the likes of the MPAA, RIAA, and the US Chamber of Commerce “a complete joke” as SOPA supporters try to sneak in “draconian” provisions that could strangle Internet freedom.

The EFF International Team sent an email explaining the May 8 to May 18 closed-door meetings in Dallas are:

secretly negotiating new regulations for the Internet – including intellectual property provisions that could choke off online speech. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement may be even worse than ACTA; it could tie the hands of democratically-elected legislators and create new, international standards for intellectual property enforcement. Worst of all, Internet users and free expression advocates like EFF aren’t allowed in the room and are forbidden from seeing the negotiated text.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk claims they have made “extraordinary efforts” to include public stakeholders in negotiations, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Like ACTA, negotiations have actively excluded civil society and the public, while welcoming private industry representatives with open arms.

“Don’t trade away our digital future,” urged The National Business Review. Public Citizen said TPP is a “corporate power tool of the 1%” and also created a School House rockish video to show you how TPP is all about secrecy.

Public Knowledge breaks it down as a “guide to copyright in the TPP,” using the leaked text [PDF] to explain that the idea behind the TPP copyright provisions “is not to achieve a level playing field: it’s to entrench and protect incumbent business models, regardless of the consequences for consumers and new businesses. If the US’s goal is to encourage innovation and leave breathing room for innovative new businesses to experiment and thrive, it must stop demanding copyright provisions whose only practical effect is to protect existing business models and discourage anyone else from trying something new.”

One bright spot about the stealthy TPP negotiations in Dallas came from a Yes Lab report. The party ended badly after a “fake awards ceremony” and activists replaced hundreds of rolls of toilet paper at the conference with TPP TP. Yes Lab’s Sean Dagohoy said, “We’re really happy to know that even in their most private moments, US trade reps are reminded that a vast majority of the public stands opposed to corporate-friendly, closed-door trade deals like the TPP.”

The nine countries in the TPP are the “United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.” However China Daily reported a “milestone” free-trade agreement investment between China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea was signed in Beijing yesterday; experts said that Washington, which is pushing forward its TPP, “should not feel concerned about the potential three-way FTA as any future agreement will also be in the interests of the US.” Oh yeah and for Americans, you support buying American goods right? Well the TPP will outlaw Buy American.

The signed letter [PDF] referenced by TechDirt is acronym heaven (or hell) and includes ABM, A2IM, AdvaMed, ACC, AAFA, AAP, BIO, FDRA, Business Roundtable, GMA, BSA, Independent Film and Television Alliance, CSI, IACC, Copyright Alliance, IIPA, CropLife America, IPO, ECAT, INTA, ESA, MPAA, NAM, SOCMA, NEMA, SIIA, NMPA, SPI, PhRMA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, RIAA, APEC and WCIT.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.