Guest blog by OpenMedia volunteer and community member Joey Levesque
What does Our Digital Future look like?
Recently, OpenMedia came together with over 300,000 Internet users around the world to release Our Digital Future: a Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression. Over 40,000 users expressed themselves using our drag-and-drop tool, and the Our Digital Future report reflects those priorities: respect for creators, free expression, and democratic processes.
But we realize that most people don’t have the time to read a 70-page crowdsourced report on the bus on the way to work, or in line at the grocery store - and we want everyone to know what’s currently at stake with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
It’s almost three minutes long, which in video years can seem like a lifetime - but it’s chock-full of important information you need to know about the TPP and your digital rights. And unless your bus travels at the speed of light, you’ll have time to watch it on your ride to work.
In brief: we stand in opposition to the manner in which the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have taken place behind closed doors.
The Intellectual Property Chapter, which will have far-reaching effects on residents in countries who are not even negotiating the TPP, is being decided on in secret - our own political leaders aren’t even allowed to see it, and even the Official Opposition Critic on Trade has spoken out about being denied access.
Architects of the negotiations have gone to extreme lengths to keep civic interest groups and the public from finding out what’s been going on.
Thanks to Wikileaks, we now know why - the TPP is worse than we thought. If implemented, it would set up transnational Internet censorship courts that would override Canadian law. This agreement is secretive, extreme, and could break our digital future.
Citizens have been denied the chance to engage with the lobbyists and bureaucrats behind the TPP, even though it would cover almost 40 percent of the world’s GDP. If implemented as is, the TPP’s Intellectual Property Chapter would affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicine across the world.
Despite the secrecy, we know from leaked drafts that the TPP will make the Internet more expensive, policed, and censored. It will invade users’ privacy, cost them money, and criminalize their online activity.
In contrast to the undemocratic nature of the TPP negotiations, OpenMedia’s report outlines an alternative, participatory vision; it’s vital that world leaders feel pressure from citizens, not just powerful media interests.
That’s why it’s great to see this understanding reflected back at us by our community. As Thomas Pfeiffer commented on YouTube:
"OpenMedia has taken the right approach: They don't just tell us about the dangers of the copyright and censorship provisions in TPP (and other trade agreements currently in the works like TTIP and CETA), but instead have crowd-sourced more positive alternatives. That's how constructive criticism works."
The bottom line is: we need a fair deal, not draconian measures. Countries should be encouraged to promote a rich public domain instead of longer copyright terms discouraging innovation and access to information.
Access to the Internet needs to be promoted as fundamental to life in 21st century society - termination of Internet access to households or businesses cuts off users from education, employment, health services, government information and social engagement.
Watch our short video to help expose the TPP’s Internet censorship provisions. Then help us take it viral. The more people who understand what’s at stake, the harder it will be for political leaders to ignore our voices and close this deal.
You can help us stop the TPP - watch the video, share it with your friends, and speak out in support of our three key recommendations to ensure a digital future that includes us all.