WikiLeaks has published a leaked draft from a massive international trade agreement that is currently being negotiated.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) involves a 12-nation regional trade bloc that accounts for almost 40% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and about one-third of all world trade. The U.S. is leading negotiations and expects them to be finished this year.
The average person may not have heard of the TPP, which also involves Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Experts believe it will be very important. Ian Bremmer has called it “most important trade agreement on the world agenda right now,” for example, pointing out that almost 40 per cent of world GDP would be involved in the deal.
However, critics have two major concerns about the TPP. The first argument is that TPP’s intentions are far more radical than most realise, with lobbyists pushing an agenda that would suit the globalization aims of multinational corporations, not the average person — in particular with restrictive intellectual property laws.
The second concern is that the process is being conducted in secret, and the public is being left in the dark — as Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing points out, it’s a deal “negotiated in utmost secrecy, without public participation, whose text is still not public.”
That a deal of this magnitude is being conducted in secret is understandably worrying, and there have been some leaks, but the full text of the proposed agreement remains out of the hands of the public.
WikiLeaks published a draft, dated Aug. 30, that it says is the intellectual property rights chapter of the proposed pact that was debated in the 19th negotiating round.
Intellectual property law expert Matthew Rimmer told the Sydney Morning Herald that the leaked draft favoured U.S. trade objectives and multinational corporate interests “with little focus on the rights and interests of consumers, let alone broader community interests.”
Dr. Rimmer continued:
“One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish-list for major corporations, and the copyright parts of the text support such a view. Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft and the pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this.”
Internet freedom advocates consider the TTP to be the biggest threat to the global Internet in years.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the TTP as “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.”
Daniel Drezner of Foreign Policy notes that there are several inaccuracies in the WikiLeaks press release, but also says that the organisation “actually makes a decent point to make on the intellectual property front.”
WikiLeaks claims that the proposed IP chapter would “
replicates many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions from the shelved SOPA and ACTA treaties.”
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was a proposed U.S. law that would have allowed the government to create a “blacklist” of copyright-infringing websites that could be blocked. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a stalled pact that would greatly increase the power of international bodies to enforce copyright laws.
“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” according to WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.
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