Stop the Secrecy

OpenMedia delivers letter from 48 leading organizations calling for full text of TPP to be released to enable public debate

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 15:57 -- Josh Tabish

This week, our own Free Expression Campaigner Meghan Sali travelled to Washington, D.C., to hand-deliver an exciting new letter organized by our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 47 other civil society organizations calling on TPP negotiators to release the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The letter represents a large and diverse group of experts and public interest groups have come together to call out the secrecy surrounding the talks. Together, these organizations say it’s time for TPP negotiators to follow the lead of the European Commission, which recently announced it would release the draft text of a similar Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal in the name of greater transparency.

On behalf of these 47 groups, Meghan delivered the letter to key TPP negotiators from the U.S., Japan, Brunei, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as representatives from the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. OpenMedia International is proud to have played such an important role in delivering this call to decision-makers, and will keep you updated on any developments that emerge.

For an overview of the letter, and our call for greater transparency, please take a look at this guest post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Global Policy Analyst, Maira Sutton, which originally appeared in EFF’s Deeplinks Blog.



48 Civil Society Groups and Experts Call on TPP Negotiators to Follow EU's Lead and Release Secret Trade Texts

EFF joins 47 other civil society groups and experts from around the world to call on trade ministers of countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to publish the current draft of the agreement, as well as all nations' negotiating positions. The TPP has been negotiated in secret for the last five years. But we know from several leaks of its Intellectual Property chapter that it contains various provisions that pose wide-ranging threats to users' rights to free speech and privacy online.

This letter follows the European Commission's recent announcement to make EU-US trade negotiations over the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) more transparent—committing themselves to release the EU's negotiating texts and to give access to all TTIP texts to members of the European Parliament. The EU Commission's decision came amidst growing pressure from the public over the secrecy of its trade talks with the US. EU officials have become particularly cautious about facing popular resistance to TTIP, following massive protests across the region against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) two years ago. These public demonstrations led to the agreement's eventual defeat when the European Parliament rejected its ratification.

We have brought together this international public-interest coalition to urge TPP trade ministers to follow Europe's example, and embark on a new era of transparency and openness in trade negotiations. We present this letter as the US Trade Representative seeks to conclude the Pacific trade deal in the coming months, and as President Obama works with some Congressional leaders to pass a fast track trade bill that would hand Congress' constitutionally-mandated authority over trade policy to the Executive branch. Under such a law, Congress members would have extremely limited powers to debate or amend the terms of this secretive international deal. As TPP seems to arrive at its final stage, this is a prime moment for trade ministers to stop the secrecy and re-commit themselves to democratic principles of transparency and public participation in rule making.

Amongst the organizations that have joined us in signing this letter include Consumers International, Creative Commons, and OpenMedia International, who will be handing it over to negotiators in person this week during the latest round of negotiations taking place in Washington DC.

The text of the letter (PDF) is available below, and has also been translated into Spanish: