Huge international campaign beams 3.1 million signature petition count on prominent buildings in Washington, D.C.
Massive numbers of people are speaking out against fast track legislation and Trans-Pacific Partnership secrecy as Senate Finance Committee prepares for crucial TPP hearing following President Obama’s return to Washington
May 1st, 2014 – As U.S. President Obama returned from a week of crucial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, a large, broad-based international campaign took its message to the heart of Washington, D.C. Last night, a projection of a 3.1 million signature petition count was beamed on to prominent buildings in Washington D.C., to speak out against TPP secrecy and fast track legislation. (High-resolution photos of the projection are available athttps://openmedia.org/STSphotos)
The projection sends a clear message to decision-makers and took place as the Senate Finance Committee is set to hold a crucial hearing this morning about the TPP at which U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will testify.
The groups behind the petition include Avaaz.org, Citizen Trade Campaign, CREDO, Communications Workers of America, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Flush the TPP, ONG Derechos Digitales, OpenMedia.org, It's our Future, Firedoglake, United Students for Fair Trade, Organic Consumers Association, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Sierra Club, Teamsters, AFL-CIO, 350.org, Corporate Accountability International, EFF. A range of other groups assisted in the campaign including social media platform reddit, popular VPN Tunnel Bear and the image hosting service imgur.
The projection is the last in a series over the past week that grew bigger and more powerful as more people signed on to the campaign at StopTheSecrecy.net. Last night’s projection included the number of people who have spoken out through various groups, which amounted to over 3,146,398 people. The project comes at a crucial time, as industry lobbyists intensify efforts to pass ‘Fast Track’ legislation that would ram the TPP through the U.S. Congress without debate.
Here’s what representatives of organizations taking part in the campaign had to say:
OpenMedia.org Executive Director Steve Anderson said today, “A deal this extreme would never pass with the world watching - that’s why U.S. lobbyists and bureaucrats are using these closed-door meetings to try to ram it through. Our projection shows just how unpopular this secretive agreement is and draws its legitimacy into question.”
Fight for the Future campaign manager Evan Greer added, “Ever since we resoundingly defeated SOPA, governments and corporate monopolies have been searching for sneakier methods of controlling and censoring the Internet. But the Internet does an amazing job of defending itself -- based on the massive outcry that we’re seeing, I think the monied interests behind the TPP will regret ever trying to use it to restrict the free and open web.”
350.org’s Communications Director Jamie Henn said, “The TPP would be a climate disaster. It weakens environmental protections, fast-tracks gas exports, and attacks worker rights. President Obama promised the most transparent government in history and bold action to address the climate crisis. These back-room deals violate both those pledges."
Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen said, “Trade agreements are not only about tariffs and quotas. They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. U.S. negotiators continue to lump together foreign policy and economic issues. That policy has had a devastating effect on working families and communities. We cannot let foreign policy objectives trump domestic concerns and in the process unravel our own democracy instead of strengthening others.”
It’s Our Future spokesperson Ed Miller said from New Zealand: “We have been fighting the obsessive secrecy of these negotiations since they were announced. Despite tens of thousands of letters, signatures on petitions, parliamentary questions, media editorials and nationwide protests, our government and the other 11 have responded by taking the negotiation even further underground. In April New Zealand’s trade minister Tim Groser said the reason people want the text released is to sink the agreement. Well, we live in a democracy, and if it has to be hidden behind a shroud of secrecy, then it’s not a good deal. We have the right to make that decision.”
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Deputy Director Alisa Simmons said: “The TPP is one of the biggest and most secretive “trade” deals in U.S. history. After more than five years of negotiations under the Obama administration and despite a plan for the deal to be signed by early 2014, the press and public are still being denied access to the draft TPP text that, if enacted, would negatively impact our daily lives. To get such a secretive, sweeping deal past Congress the Obama administration needs Fast Track authority – a rarely-used process that operates like a legislative luge to skid through harmful “trade” deals. This anti-democratic and antiquated maneuver is how we got into NAFTA and the WTO. We stand with our allies around the world to say no to the TPP and demand fair not “free” trade.”
Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Global Policy Analyst Maira Sutton said: “The TPP is a mess, and it's a mess because Obama and his U.S. Trade Representative are fighting for a deal on behalf of U.S. corporate interests and they're stuck defending a bad process and a bad deal. They've kept negotiations secret because they thought they could get away with this scheme, but Internet users and public interest groups know what's going on and have spoken loud and clear: We are opposed to the TPP. It's now up to lawmakers to do their job, represent our interests, and say NO to TPP or Fast Track.”
"So far, we’ve seen no evidence that the TPP is anything other than corporate colonialism, meant to make it even easier to evade worker rights, environmental protections, and all else that stands in the way of profit for a few at the expense of many," said Cassidy Regan of Flush the TPP. "Communities on both sides of the Pacific are raising their voices against this rigged deal, and if President Obama’s recent trip is any indication, it’s clear that global opposition will only grow as the secrecy continues.”
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is nothing but a secret corporate power grab disguised as a ‘trade’ agreement," said Becky Bond, CREDO's Political Director. "DC politicians who don't want to be seen as selling out their constituents would be wise to oppose the TPP and the reckless attempt to fast-track the TPP through Congress."
"Nearly 65,000 Sierra Club members and supporters have spoken out against fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, making it clear that we won't stand for a trade pact that puts American families and our future at risk," said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club's Responsible Trade Program. "What we need is a new model of trade that puts workers, families, and the environment before corporate profits—not a process that puts harmful trade agreements on the fast track."
To date, all TPP negotiations have taken place in near-total secrecy, with just 600 industry lobbyists and government bureaucrats at the table. Citizens and public interest groups have been excluded from the talks.
Citizens continue call on Obama and decision makers in congress to stop trying to fast track the secretive TPP at http://StopTheSecrecy.net
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 Fight for the Future:
Fight for the Future works to activate the Internet community to fight for a free and open Internet and our basic rights and freedoms. Founded in 2011 during the epic SOPA fight, we're known for effective, viral organizing and mass engagement through creative online actions. Our projects include the Internet Defense League, a network of more than 30,000 websites dedicated to protecting the web. For more information, visitwww.fightforthefuture.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Communications Workers of America (CWA):
CWA represents 700,000 workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. CWA members work in communications, media, airlines, manufacturing and public service.
About the Sierra Club:
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.
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.
Negotiators from 12 of the TPP negotiating nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States— are meeting in Asia this week to discuss these changes without input from the public, creators, or most businesses. The negotiating documents are classified—unless you are one of just 600 industry lobbyists permitted to participate.
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 139,000 people have now signed a petition at https://OpenMedia.org/censorship, which demands that negotiators reject copyright proposals that would restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia
Photographs of the Stop Secrecy projection:
High resolution photos of the projection are available at https://OpenMedia.org/STSphotos
- 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
- Detailed expert analysis of the leaked TPP draft can be found at: http://keionline.org/node/1825
- In August 2013, OpenMedia and the Our Fair Deal Coalition launched an alternative process to the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, enabling citizens to have their say on shaping their digital future.
- In May 2013, OpenMedia and Coalition partners sent TPP Trade Ministers a letter to demand a ‘Fair Deal’ on provisions that would restrict Internet use in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.
- We also sent a message to new U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman by purchasing a hard-hitting Washington D.C. newspaper ad.
- In December 2012, OpenMedia’s Steve Anderson took our message direct to TPP negotiators in Auckland. Read his full report from Auckland here.
- In June 2012, OpenMedia joined with a diverse coalition of groups to launch the StopTheTrap.net petition - a petition which gained over 135,000 signatures and which was hand-delivered to TPP negotiators in San Diego.