As Digital Rights Advocates Mobilize Around The TPP Negotiations, Process Becomes Even Less Transparent

Maira Sutton | Electronic Frontier Foundation | December 11, 2012

The 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations in New Zealand concluded this week, locking out civil society participation in an unprecedented way. The TPP is a trade agreement between eleven Pacific nations and it covers a wide range of regulatory issues including transnational investment, services, tobacco, and textiles. The chapter that EFF and other digital rights groups around the world find alarming covers intellectual property. EFF is also looking into issues of free flow of information and cross-over issues that may appear in the ecommerce and service chapters. Based upon what we have seen from leaked version of the agreement, the TPP contains language that could effectively pressure ISPs to become Internet cops and criminalize the distribution of DRM-circumvention tools even for fair uses, impede parallel importation of copyrighted goods, among others.

After participating in previous rounds, we could not have imagined that the process could become any less transparent. Amazingly, it did. Previously we had only been allowed to interact with trade negotiators in the halls of the venue during the 10-day-long meetings, or during a stakeholder tabling event. In the Auckland round, we found that the tabling event was cancelled and that we would not be let into the venue at all, except the single day when stakeholders are allowed to give 15-minutes presentations—which took place on the same day the delegates were given to rest and enjoy tourist attractions around Auckland. [...]