OpenMedia

Stop the Secrecy

Social media companies, entrepreneurs, investors, and Internet user groups speak out about costs of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement

July 9, 2014A large international coalition representing over 100 web companies and Internet user groups are speaking out about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would force telecom and web providers to police the Internet, the cost of which could potentially put smaller providers and other innovators out of business. Big names including Wikimedia, reddit, O’Reilly Media, and BoingBoing have joined the call, which comes as secretive TPP talks intensify at the Delta Hotel in downtown Ottawa. The crucial round of high-level talks continue until July 11.

 

The TPP is being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States. The changes to copyright proposed by the TPP would restrict citizens’ and businesses’ ability to innovate, both on and offline.

The group has set out their concerns in a joint letter which focuses on the tough new burdens the TPP would impose on telecom and web service providers. The letter highlights how the TPP would “force service providers throughout the region to monitor and police their users' actions on the Internet, pass on automated takedown notices, block websites and disconnect Internet users." Led by OpenMedia.org and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the letter was put together by the Fair Deal network of civil society groups and businesses working to reform the copyright provisions in the Intellectual Property chapter of the TPP.

 

The letter will be handed to negotiators at a face-to-face meeting in Ottawa this afternoon. OpenMedia’s Reilly Yeo will present negotiators with detailed feedback sourced from over 19,000 people who have spoken out about the TPP using OpenMedia’s Internet Voice tool.

“We know from leaked documents that the TPP will have an enormously harmful impact on our everyday lives,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Under the TPP whole families could be kicked offline, Internet costs will rise, and online free expression will be seriously undermined. It’s profoundly undemocratic for TPP leaders to lock out citizens, while allowing secretive industry lobbyists to write rules that will harm Internet users and potentially put many Canadian telecom and web service providers out of business. It’s high time for Stephen Harper and other TPP leaders to open up this whole process and enable citizens to finally have a say.”

 

Tim Bray, a Canadian software developer, founder of two companies, and co-inventor of XML,  which is foundational to the Internet, said: “I’m generally pro-free-trade, but I’m horrified that this agreement might be used, in a secretive back-door way, to twist Canada’s copyright system, which generally works well, in ways that could criminalize common-sense, socially-valuable uses of our shared intellectual heritage.”

Leading copyright expert Prof. Michael Geist had this to say: "The Canadian notice-and-notice system has proven to provide a fair balance for all stakeholders with evidence of benefits for rights holders while preserving free speech and privacy rights. The model has been adopted or is being considered in other countries and should be featured as an option in the TPP."

Erik Martin, General Manager of popular social news site reddit, said: “reddit is a platform for creating communities and sharing information. We have immense concerns about any proposals that would place the burden of preemptively policing users and blocking information onto communication platforms such as reddit directly. This is a real threat to all communication platforms that help to make our open Internet ecosystem so rich and diverse."

Jeremy Malcolm, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation commented, “There is no reason to think that the copyright rules being pushed in this agreement are the best rules for all twelve countries. Indeed, they may not be the best rules for any of those countries. They are simply the rules that the highly-paid lobbyists from big content industries would like to see locked in as immutable global standards. We mustn’t fall into that trap.”

Trish Hepworth from the Australian Digital Alliance said: “we can’t afford for these prescriptive, overly-bureaucratic provisions to be cemented into a 12 party ‘trade’ deal.  The rigid systems that countries would have to implement to comply are not suited to such a rapidly changing area, we need to retain flexibility to implement effective laws in this area.”

 

The following have signed on to the joint letter:

Entrepreneurs: Alexis Ohanian (Co-founder of Reddit), Cory Doctorow, and Tim Bray (Textuality Services, Inc.), Ron Yokubaitis.

Businesses: Affinity Bridge, Agentic Digital Media, Amicus, Blacknight, Blindspot, Briteweb, Cheezburger, Data Foundry, Engine.is, Happy Mutants LLC (Boingboing.net), Catalyst Internet, cStreet Campaigns, Codename Design, Credo Mobile, Disconnect, Ello Foods, Engine Advocacy, Fark, Functional Imperative, Floop Technologies, Galiano Coffee Roasting, GHL Consultants, Giganews, Golden Frog, GrowthLogic, Hackers/Founders, i2Coalition, iiNet, iFixit, Interdependent Investments, Internet Archive, Imgur, Lionsgate Software,  O'Reilly Media, Namecheap, reddit, RadioAtlantic.ca, Techdirt, Thoughtworks, Tucows, TunnelBear, Scoop Media, ServInt, Spake Media House, Stack Exchange, Stack Overflow.

User groups: Article 19, Association of Progressive Communicators, Australian Digital Alliance, Australian Privacy Foundation, B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Consumer New Zealand, Consumers International, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Fight for the Future, Gen Why Media, Hiperderecho, OpenMedia, Public Knowledge, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), Wikimedia Foundation.

Companies and organizations can still sign on to the joint letter here: http://bit.ly/U2bzro

Over 19,000 people have sent TPP negotiators detailed input via OpenMedia’s Face-to-Face tool at https://OpenMedia.org/FaceToFace

 

About OpenMedia

OpenMedia is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.

 

 

About the Our Fair Deal coalition

 

Starting at first in New Zealand and then connecting with organizations and people internationally, a group of individuals from the fields of Internet policy, art, information technology and law got together to discuss a TPP campaign with a copyright focus. What resulted was the idea of a fair deal, one that opens up trade opportunities for TPP member states but doesn’t force copyright and other IP-related changes on us that could damage our future. Learn more at OurFairDeal.org

 

Members of the Fair Deal coalition include:

Affinity Bridge, Article 19, Australian Digital Alliance, Australian Library  & Information Association, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Internet NZ, BCFIPA, The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), Consumers International, Council of Canadians, Creative Freedom, Demand Progress, Derechos Digitales, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Engine.is, Fight for the Future, FreePress, Gen Why Media, Hiperderecho, Library & Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, Movements for the Internet Active Users, NZRise, NZOSS, OpenMedia.org, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, Scoop, Tech Liberty NZ, TechDirt, Tuanz, Tucows, TradeMe

 

About the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement:

The TPP is one of the most far-reaching international free trade agreements in history. We know from leaked TPP draft texts that participating nations would be bound to much stricter and more extreme copyright laws than now exist under current national laws. These new rules would criminalize much online activity, invade citizens’ privacy, and significantly impact our ability to share and collaborate online.

U.S. negotiators are pushing hard to force smaller nations into accepting a censored Internet. However, reports have indicated that the intellectual property provisions have been quite a “challenging” issue for those behind the agreement.

Over 140,000 people have now signed a petition at http://OpenMedia.org/censorship, which demands that TPP decision-makers reject copyright proposals that would restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity, and our fundamental rights.

Over 3.2 million people have signed on to a recent campaign led by OpenMedia and other groups against the excessive secrecy surrounding the TPP at https://StopTheSecrecy.net

Tens of thousands are taking part in a crowdsourcing initiative organized by OpenMedia to create a positive vision for sharing and collaborating online. The initiative aims to create an Internet-fueled positive alternative that decision-makers can’t ignore.

 

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Contact

 

David Christopher

Communications Manager, OpenMedia

1-778-232-1858

david@openmedia.ca

 

More Information

 

  • Internet governance expert says U.S. trying to strong-arm Canada into economically-damaging Internet censorship rules in international agreement. Source: OpenMedia.ca

  • Full text of the TPP’s Internet censorship chapter - source: Wikileaks