We are an unlikely coalition of groups including Corporate Accountability International, EFF, Sierra Club, CWA, Reddit, and we are standing together to stop a bill to “fast track” TPP through Congress — Ask Us Anything.
Learn more and take action here: Stop Fast Track
You may have heard about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that's being negotiated in secret by 12 countries across the Pacific. It has 29 chapters covering all kinds of regulations, and we only know what's in it because of outdated leaks and government statements.
A huge number of groups and individuals are opposed to the TPP and other agreements like it for all kinds of different reasons. That's because only a small part of these agreements deal with traditional “trade” issues like tariffs and market access. They cover regulations on everything from food labeling, labor standards, access to medicines, copyright enforcement, and cross-border investments. The problem is that the only interests that are represented at the negotiating table are corporate advisors—no public interest groups, no elected representatives, and no members of the public. That means that the rules that are in TPP are designed to give new rights and privileges to major corporations, while users, consumers, and everyone else get the worst end of the deal.
Now the White House and the US Trade Representative want the power to “fast track” TPP through Congress. The US Constitution gives Congress members the sole authority to regulate trade. But a new bill that was introduced would let Congress hand their powers over to Obama and the trade office, making this whole process even less transparent and less democratic. It’s called the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act” (HR.3830/S.1900) or TPA 2014 for short. If passed, it would severely curb Congress’ ability to conduct hearings and limit their power to solely an up or down, Yes or No vote. Stopping this fast track bill is a major part of the fight to block the passage of TPP and other secretive trade agreements.
Today we launch 10 days of action across the United States to stop this bill from passing. We're here to share what we know about TPP, and answer your questions about why such a broad range of groups are opposed to this fast track bill. We need you to help us stop these toxic trade agreements, because mass public pressure is the most effective way to make the US government accountable.
Those of us answering questions today:
AFL-CIO: Celeste Drake - cdrakefairtrade
Citizens Trade Coalition - citizenstrade
Communication Workers of America: cwaunion
Corporate Accountability International: StopCorporateAbuse
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Maira Sutton - MairaEFF
Fight for the Future: Evan Greer - evanFFTF
OpenMedia: Steve Anderson - Steve_Media
Reddit: Erik Martin - hueypriest
Sierra Club: Ilana Solomon - Sierra_Club
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Don't Let Congress Fast Track TPP
Open Media: Internet Censorship Petition
Outside the US? Learn more about the impact of trade policy from these organizations:
En Español (Spanish): TPP Abierto
日本語 (Japanese): Stop TPP!!
Canada (English): The Council of Canadians: Trans-Pacific Partnership
That's it for us! Thanks so much for everyone's great questions.
We'll all be spending the next 10 days to mount as much public pressure against this fast track bill as possible. Remember to take action at the Stop Fast Track site, and spread the word about the dangers of TPP. On Twitter, we're using the hashtag #StopTPP.
Together we can stop our governments from signing secret, undemocratic trade agreements. Let's do this.
It's similar to bills like SOPA/PIPA in that TPP's restrictive copyright enforcement provisions could lead to content being blocked, filtered, and censored. That's because it'll create legal liabilities for ISPs and websites for its users' activities. To avoid being held liable, these services would rather take it down or block content to avoid being taken to court over content that copyright holders say are infringing (whether or not that's actually true!).
Other things the TPP will do is expand copyright term lengths up to 140 years after the work was created. And its DRM provisions could make it illegal for you to use/repair/tinker/sell/lend your tech devices or digital content.
Thanks for the support!
What are the implications of the internet censorship proposed?
The copyright proposals pushed forth by the US would help pave the way for a kind of future where Internet users are afraid to share links with each other, where websites and Internet service providers block and filter content, and where our own tech devices become even more closed off to us, as it become ever more illegal to tinker, repair, share, and even use them.
The TPP is the latest in a long line of international agreements that attempt to make the Internet and our tech ever more restrictive to us. If we want to make sure the Internet remains free, we need to stop this agreement. We need to let our representatives know that we will not put up with secret digital policies decided in backroom meetings.
You mentioned that the TPP would impact privacy rights online. Could you elaborate? How will this impact your average internet user in terms of protecting personal data online?
Just as Fight for the Future said, provisions in the TPP could legally compel ISPs to monitor users' activities to be private copyright cops. We have more about those provisions here: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/08/tpp-creates-liabilities-isps-and-put-your-rights-risk
There are also provisions in the TPP that can empower state officials to seize or destroy property that has been alleged to have been used in facilitating copyright infringement, even without a warrant or a judicial order. (!)
What happens if one of the countries involved besides the US decide not to accept it, or a new government wants to abolish it. Green parties are quite opposed to it, and could at least in the NZ have some say after the next election there.
It depends on what the terms of ratification. The TPP can still come into force, if say, it includes language that says that only 6 of the 12 countries have to ratify it. But again, we don't know what that language says since the agreement is secret...so all of this will just have to be a surprise to us until the day trade negotiators decide to officially release the text.
What is the ratio of Dem vs. Rep support for your cause?
How much support do you actually have?
Thanks for the AMA. I am a libertarian (small l).
I'd say there are probably more Democrat-aligned folks in the US who oppose TPP, but there are many prominent libertarians and Republicans that oppose TPP and fast track as well.
In November, over 20 Republicans in the House sent a letter to Obama in opposition to fast track.
It's also worth mentioning that one of the most prominent libertarian think tanks, the Cato Institute, is against fast track as well (albeit for different reasons): http://www.cato.org/publications/free-trade-bulletin/stay-fast-track-why-trade-promotion-authority-wrong-trans-pacific
There's also this op-ed from a trade policy analyst at the Cato Institute who thinks that the scope of the TPP extends beyond traditional trade issues, in particular, the Intellectual Property provisions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-watson/for-free-trades-sake_b_4325963.html
Thanks for doing this AMA!
My question is how is this bill different from CISPA or any other such equivalent restriction?
Also, you mention that users get the worst end of the deal- I'm just wondering what that entails.
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