Remember SOPA, PIPA and ACTA? Those three pieces of legislation which the internet and the world at large stood up against because they threatened to inhibit innovation in technology, freedom of speech and access to data? Well now those same concerns are back, but under a new guise: the TPP.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) sounds great on the surface. It’s a trade agreement designed to improve investment and cooperation between the following countries: United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. Unfortunately though, it’s much more underhanded than it sounds.
There’s a specific chapter that Wikileaks has now outed, that addresses the internet and intellectual property rights, with suggestions coming from all sides that both need to be tightened. It discusses measures for cutting the internet off to illegal downloaders that are repeatedly caught out (which to some, would be considered an infringement of human rights), extended copyright terms that remove exceptions to current laws, proposals for the granting of further patents, ISP liability in the case of illegal downloads and many more potentially restrictive policies.
Fortunately, the bill seems to currently be in a state of negotiation, with participating countries unable to find an agreement on many of the issues. However, without this revelation of the agreement by Wikileaks, we may never have learned much about it, since as a trade-agreement, it doesn’t need to be publicly debated and therefore the public doesn’t legally need to know. In theory it could have been signed in to law secretly, without any public consensus.
Perhaps the worst part of it though, is it discusses the idea of creating intellectual property rights for data, where the copying of any information could theoretically be grounds for legal action unless you had permission from the rights holder.
Understandably many people aren’t pleased with this sort of dealing and have begun speaking up against it. Torrentfreak quotes Burcu Kilic, an IP lawyer with Public Citizen, who compares the trade-agreement to SOPA, suggesting that if signed in it will limit internet freedoms and reduce people’s access to educational materials, benefiting only copyright lobbyists and corporate patent holders. It would also place ISPs in an uncomfortable position where they would be forced to turn in their own customers to the lobby groups so that legal action could be pressed.
If you want to read the full chapter you can do so here.
KitGuru Says: If this wasn’t linked with the Pacific, you know the UK would be all over this too. Here’s hoping that the world can stuff the efforts of backing politicians just like they did with previous anti-internet-freedom bills.