The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a way of bringing to attention things that copyright cartels and their allies in government would rather people didn’t know about. Continuing on in that tradition, and in their fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the organization has linked to a petition, and made it widely available. The petition calls upon Senator a Ron Wyden to take moves to eliminate the tremendous secrecy that the TPP has been characterized by, as well as to eliminate policies that would essentially force an up or down vote on an agreement that’s enormously complex, that has many aspects clearly aimed toward keeping private industry happy at the expense of consumers and that may well change the nature of privacy on the Internet as we know it.
Getting the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement into place is one of the most significant goals of the Obama administration. However, critics charge that it has provisions that are anathema to Internet privacy, that put copyright cartels into a position of tremendous power and that reward ISPs for deliberately spying on their customers to enforce copyright law on the behalf of Hollywood and other big entertainment industry groups. Intellectual property law and environmental policies are also likely to be impacted by the TPP, in ways that critics find alarming, at the very least.
There are two things about the TPP that have raised concern among privacy advocates like EFF and other organizations concerned with intellectual property, environmental and other policies.
Essentially, what amounts to a policy written by and for industry would be forced into effect under fast-track authority, which would eliminate the public having any voice in the policy, as well as eliminating the voices of the public’s representatives.
A recent ruling in federal court eliminated an Obama administration restriction on registered lobbyists serving on federal advisory committees. As it stands, registered lobbyists can now serve on advisory committees for legislation and agreements that may benefit their employers. This means, of course, that lobbyists working for the entertainment industry can now serve on advisory committees for policies that would greatly benefit their paymasters, allowing industry a great deal of influence in creating the very policies that are supposed to regulate it.
According to information from the EFF, the Intellectual Property chapter of the TPP has some very disturbing elements in it that are clearly designed by and for the entertainment industry. Circumventing DRM restrictions, for example, would become a crime. The new policy would also add 70 years beyond the life of the original author to copyright law, locking industry profits in and locking the public out.
ISPs will be required to monitor their customer’s activity and to report if they believe that there is any copyright infringement taking place. The costs of that monitoring will be put on consumers.
Lobbyists are also given far more freedom than even members of congress in how they learn about and work with the policy. Those lobbyists may access the text of the agreement on their own computers wherever they want. Members of Congress, however, are only allowed to see the agreement in special rooms and are not allowed to take notes on the text. They are not allowed to have their own legislative aides in the room for assistance.
You can sign the petition the EFF has written up to Senator Wyden. Wyden is being pressured to fast track this agreement, completely eliminating Congress and certainly everyday people from having any voice in it whatsoever. The petition calls on Wyden to open up these negotiations, and he has proven friendly to Internet user’s rights in the past.
• Sign the Petition (EFF) here — https://act.eff.org/action/demand-an-end-to-secret-copyright-trade-deals