OpenMedia

Stop the Secrecy

The TPP so far

Fri, 07/04/2014 - 15:03 -- Jason Hjalmarson

Photo by Brian via Flickr

This week, the latest Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) round began in Ottawa, Canada. In what is becoming a disappointingly familiar story, the talks have been shrouded in near-total secrecy. Only a week ago, the venue changed mysteriously from Vancouver to Ottawa, leading your OpenMedia team to wonder whether TPP organizers were keen to dodge criticism from the many civic interest groups, including ourselves, that call Vancouver home. Despite the snap location change, we’ve been working hard to shed light on how this reckless deal could make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Shining a light: our “Bat Signal” at work

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In April, we were able to literally shine a light on the Trans Pacific Partnership’s secret negotiations with a giant “bat signal” in Washington D.C.. From April 23rd to 29th, U.S. President Obama was travelling through Asia on a mission to shore up support for the TPP. Each day he was overseas, we organized a giant projector to shine a hard hitting message onto different government buildings in Washington D.C.

Our message got bigger and brighter with every night Obama was holding talks in Asia, symbolizing the growing public opposition to the President’s secret plan. Be sure to visit our tumblr page and check out the powerful images we created.

But more important -- our hard hitting messages worked!

Almost as soon as our projections were completed, a top U.S. Senator, Ron Wyden (D-OR) used his position as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to speak out against the TPP’s secrecy!

“Too often, there is trade secrecy instead of trade transparency…” said Senator Wyden. Later on in the same hearing, Wyden stated that any agreement reached, including the TPP, “...must reflect the need for a free and open Internet.”

Your Citizen Driven Plan: a positive vision for free expression online

Our campaign to stop the TPP’s Internet Censorship will continue until your rights are protected. We know that to really protect the open Internet, we need to offer our own alternative vision for the future of free expression online.

We want to counter the TPP’s closed off and secretive negotiations with a groundbreaking, 21st century model for collaboration. We believe important decisions about the future of the Internet should be made in public, by many voices, and we know that the more people who participate in creating this positive vision, the harder it will be for decision makers to ignore.

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Thats why we launched “Your Citizen-Driven Plan” - to give Internet users like you a real opportunity to help shape the rules that govern your Internet use.

We were totally blown away when we not only met our goal of 20,000 participants, but actually managed to double it. To date, nearly 40,000 people have used our drag-and-drop crowdsourcing tool to help create a set of recommendations crucial in our fight to defend free expression online.

Face-to-Face with Internet Censorship

Now, as negotiations intensify in Ottawa, your team at OpenMedia is going Face to Face with Internet Censorship.

One of the things that we find the most troubling about the TPP is how closed off the negotiations are to citizen comments and feedback. To empower people to participate, we invited our community to speak directly to those with the power to stop extreme Internet censorship by using our easy-to-use Internet voice tool.

We’re really happy to report that we gathered over 18,000 citizen comments with this tool in just the past few days, and our very own Reilly Yeo will be heading to Ottawa to deliver your message directly to negotiators!

Want to do more to help us defend free expression online? Click here to use our Letter-to-the-Editor tool to speak out about the TPP negotiations in Ottawa. TPP negotiators go to great lengths to keep their meetings closed and secret; our Letter-to-the-Editor tool enables you to write to several local papers simultaneously, and will help shine some light on the negotiations.

We’ve come a long way towards bringing greater transparency and openness to these TPP negotiations, but we need to keep up the pressure more than ever. Have YOUR say, go to https://OpenMedia.org/FaceToFace and share YOUR concerns about secrecy at the TPP. We’ll make sure your voice gets heard.