Big Media lobbyists and unelected bureaucrats are holding closed-door meetings in Malaysia this week, as they continue secret talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a highly secretive and extreme trade deal being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the United States, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Reports from Malaysia indicatethat the TPP talks are stalledover five key issues – including a key chapter on copyright and Intellectual Property rights that would censor and criminalize Internet use. This is not good news for Big Media lobbyists, who are demanding the TPP include extreme new copyright rules that could end the open Internet as we know it. Big Media is spending a fortune on lobbying as they try to shore up an old-fashioned, high-cost command and control media business model that no longer makes sense in the Internet age.
TPP organizers are going to incredible lengths to lock citizens out of these negotiations – when talks recently took place in Vancouver, Canada’s trade ministry instituted what amounted to a media blackout, even refusing to tell journalists in which part of town the talks were taking place. TPP documents are top secret – unless you’re one of just 600 big industry lobbyists invited to take part.
Why all this secrecy? Well, because what’s on the negotiating table is so unpopular that it would never pass with the whole world watching. We know from leaked documents that the TPP contains extreme proposals on copyright that would never pass muster with the public. According to the drafts Big Media’s extreme proposals wouldcriminalize your online activity, invade your privacy, and cost you money.
But it’s starting to look like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, as, despite the secrecy, word is spreading fast about Big Media’s secret and extreme proposals. Citizens across the region are speaking out, with over 15,000 citizens and 30 major organizations uniting behind the Our Fair Deal Coalition, which is demanding an end to restrictive copyright proposals and a fair deal for the future of the Internet.
Our allies at the Electronic Frontier Foundation are also sounding the alarm, noting that Big Media’s proposals mean that: “normal online activities could lead you to be cut off from the Internet, have your computer seized, be fined up to $150,000, or even land you in prison.”
With talks stalled, momentum is rapidly building behind the campaign to open up the talks to citizen input. Over 23,000 have told U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman not to criminalize our Internet, with thousands more speaking out on Facebook and onTwitter.
All this citizen pressure is delivering results, with heavyweight decision-makers like U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren now demanding transparency and an open, public debate about the implications of the TPP.