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TPP: A fast track to Internet censorship?

One month. 

That’s the time left before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could become a finalized agreement. For those who are drawing blank looks -- and understandably so -- the TPP is a highly secretive trade deal involving 12 nations around the Pacific Rim.  

Described by experts Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy of Public Citizen as “one of the most significant international commercial agreements since the creation of WTO,” the TPP is more than a trade agreement -- it’s an underhanded attempt by old industry interests to censor the Internet.  

The lack of general awareness about the TPP is exactly what unelected trade officials and lobbyists hope for; the more covert the negotiations, the easier it is to usher in extreme new Internet censorship rules. 

The TPP’s extreme Internet censorship plan 

The changes proposed by the TPP could seriously undermine citizens’ rights to participate in a free and open Internet. We know from leaked drafts that these draconian measures could criminalize your everyday use of the Internet, force service providers to collect and hand over your private data, and give old industry conglomerates more power to fine you for Internet use. As opposed to fostering a global forum in which citizens can engage with one another, the TPP would stifle any kind of innovation within the Internet community. 

OpenMedia ally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation underlines the dangers of the TPP:

The copyright provisions in the TPP will carve a highly restrictive copyright regime into stone and prevent countries from enacting laws that best address and promote users’ interests. In this final stage, it’s time for us to demand that our lawmakers join those who are already denouncing this agreement. We must drag this out into the light and reject international laws that uphold corporate interests at the expense of users’ rights.” 

Obama fast tracks the TPP, bypasses democracy 

If it isn’t bad enough that these talks have occurred behind closed doors, U.S. President Obama is now taking this secrecy even further by attempting to “fast track” the deal through Congress. 

This means that elected U.S. Congress members would be forced to vote on the agreement without the possibility of sharing, discussing, or amending its contents. Under such intense pressure from the president, it seems as though the most comprehensive and covert post-WTO trade agreement could be finalized by as early as the end of October.

The urgency to wrap up this controversial deal is reaffirmed by the White House’s recent announcement that they’ll go ahead with the TPP -- despite the current government shutdown.

Unsurprisingly, Congress members have not taken to Obama’s undemocratic, fast track plans without protest. Several representatives have recently spoken out against this backdoor deal, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro:

“I oppose fast-track authority like what we have had in the past [...] we are not just here to rubber stamp what gets done.” Echoing this sentiment is Rep. Alan Grayson, who has described the Obama Administration's secrecy about the TPP as “an assault on democratic government.”  

Over 100,000 citizens against Internet censorship

 It’s not just Congress that has spoken up. Over 100,000 citizens from all across the Trans-Pacific region have made it clear that they’re against the TPP’s dangerous Internet censorship plan.

As negotiations are set to wrap up by the end of this month, this really is the last chance for global citizens to let their decision-makers know that they will pay a hefty political price for supporting a deal that censors the Internet.  

It’s time to put an end to Internet censorship now. Join the over 100,000 others who have spoken up and sign the petition against Internet censorship today at https://OpenMedia.org/censorship 

Thanh Lam is Community Engagement Assistant with OpenMedia.org 

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