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Australian Trade Minister Says That Releasing IP Enforcement TPP Treaty Text Would Be 'Problematic'

from the for-whom? dept

We've pointed out how the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is shaping up to be the son of ACTA, but worse. And one area where negotiators seem to be following the ACTA blueprint is on near total secrecy about the negotiations (even as some are leaking). This is really stunningly stupid. As many people pointed out when it came to ACTA, the excessive and unprecedented levels of secrecy really gave critics a key point to focus on that generated tremendous interest in what would otherwise have been seen as a boring trade agreement.

And yet, TPP negotiators are doing the exact same thing. A few years ago, you may recall, that US Trade Rep Ron Kirk dismissed calls for transparency in ACTA negotiations by claiming that it would be problematic in that some of the participants might walk away from the table if they had to tell the citizens they represented what they were actually negotiating. Of course, later in the negotiations, when some countries pushed for transparency and openness, it became clear that it was the US -- who really kicked off ACTA -- that was the driving force behind the unprecedented level of secrecy.

Now, with TPP, it appears they're making the same totally unsubstantiated claims. Glyn Moody points us to a letter sent by Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson, which pays lip service to "transparency," but when it comes down to the key question of opening up what's being negotiated, says that's not really possible:
Your suggestion that draft negotiating text and position papers should be made public is understandable but problematic. First, this would only be possible if all parties agreed. Many negotiating parties would consider releasing the text as a breach of confidence. Second, negotiating text really has no status until it is agreed by all parties. I am not convinced that exposing contested text, potentially including ambit claims, would assist informed public debate on the issues.
Almost none of that makes sense. First, the claim that it would only be possible if all parties agree should not be a stumbling block. The simple response is that all parties should agree. This is a treaty that will likely have significant impact on people in all these countries. Why shouldn't it be discussed publicly? The "breach of confidence" claim is meaningless for the same reasons. These are about laws and enforcement that will impact citizens. There shouldn't be anything "in confidence" going on here. That the document has "no status" until it's agreed upon certainly sounds like "hey, please don't complain about the document until it's all done and we've agreed to what's in it." Talk about missing the point. The reason people want the negotiations to be open is to stop bad and damaging things from being in that "agreed" upon resolution.

Finally, the last claim is the most ridiculous. How can a more informed public not assist in informed public debate? Seriously. It takes amazing hubris to try to claim that keeping a document secret leads to greater "informed public debate" on the subject.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2011 @ 2:13am

    Their definition of problematic:

    Problematic:

    -adjective

    1: See Egypt revolution of 2011;
    2: See civil war;

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 2:47am

    This sounds familiar.

    Second, negotiating text really has no status until it is agreed by all parties.

    Kind of reminds me of the Pelosi informing the nation that we really won't know what's in the health care bill until it's passed.

    What's even more troubling/amazing than these phrases is the fact that the people speaking them actually believe there's some logic behind that reasoning. It must be a symptom of their strange brand of paranoia, in which everyone is out to get them but, at the same time, everyone lacks the power to actually get them.

    It's like they've progressed to a point where shame and ridicule have no effect on their actions. I'm sure there's some sort of initiation ceremony that removes common sense and their conscience and replaces it with a prostitute's sense of loyalty and a schoolyard bully's sensibility.

     

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  3.  
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    sinsi (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 4:27am

    "Many negotiating parties would consider releasing the text as a breach of confidence"
    Surely just the one?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 5:21am

    How come the adage "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" never gets used in these situations - but only when they want to spy on the public.

     

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  5.  
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    abc gum, Apr 7th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    We can not tell you what law you are in violation of, now come quietly or we will taze you bro.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 6:13am

    Sounds like there's only one solution to their "problem" then.

    Kill them all. Problem solved! For them and for us. Never overlook the obvious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Not That Chris (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 6:18am

    Re: This sounds familiar.

    Kind of reminds me of the Pelosi informing the nation that we really won't know what's in the health care bill until it's passed.

    This isn't quite the same. Pelosi's full comment that so many people love to take out of context was "But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy."

    That second half of the sentence is actually quite important. She wasn't saying (as the trade minister is stating) that you have to pass it so you can see what's in it because we're not going to tell you (the healthcare bill itself was available to read for several months, iirc) and no one really knows what's in it (the healthcare bill was picked apart by damn near everybody). In the case of that bill, the common person had been told it was full of language intended to fund abortions with tax money, kill your grandparents with "death panels" and make it legal for the FBI to strip search your pets. The implication with her statement was once it was passed, it would become apparent what was real and what was made up by scaremongers to keep you in line and feeding at the teat of shock media.

    This, like ACTA, is another instance of "We're totally committed to making this transparent, but really, shut up, stop asking questions, and accept it because we say its good for you, and by good for you, we mean great for the people that bought us in the last election. HEY, LOOK OVER THERE!"

     

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  8.  
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    Christopher (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 6:34am

    Re:

    That is basically what the police would love to be able to do.... just tell you that you are in violation of a law but not which law that you are in violation of and cart you off with no phone call to a lawyer, parent, etc.

     

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  9.  
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    abc gum, Apr 7th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re:

    Exactly ... and since privatization of the prison system is such a good idea it makes even more sense to privatize the police force. This will allow Barney to lock up the entire town before Andy gets back from Mount Pilot. This will please the super rich stock holders to no end because they have a get out of jail free card.

     

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  10.  
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    Jesse (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    Mike, I think you are using an outdated definition of "informed public." It appears that you think "informed public" means the public should be informed so that they might influence and shape treaties and legislation (i.e. participate in democracy). However, "informed public" actually means "informed-of-the-decisions-we've-made-from-on-high-so-that-you-can-blindly-obey."

    It's a common mistake; don't feel bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    The original (US) constitution was done behind closed doors, but the difference is that they had to get the approval of the majority of the people after they were done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 8:46am

    Transcript error

    I am not convinced that exposing contested text, potentially including ambit claims, would assist informed public debate on the issues.

    He mumbled you see... they missed out the "un" in the transcript. The thing they want to assist is UNinformed debate so that the public debates about and swallows the nice-sounding sound-bites they release about how it's going to protect them from raporists and bad things. Releasing the text does indeed not assist in uninformed debate.

    See? Makes much more sense that way...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 7th, 2011 @ 9:15am

    One of the things they hope to ban is "parallel imports of copyrighted goods" - As an Australian, I'll be damned if some /b/tard politician in America is gonna tell me that I can't import a CD or DVD from there to here for my own personal use if I want to! And I'll be doubly damned if some /b/tard politician here in Australia AGREES to that rule! It's bad enough Amazon isn't sending a lot of DVD's overseas anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    This is where capitalism fails as a economic system which is getting to the point now it will destroy itself. We need to move on Socialism/Communism if we want to have the internet alive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Apr 7th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    Re:

    "This is where capitalism fails as a economic system which is getting to the point now it will destroy itself. We need to move on Socialism/Communism if we want to have the internet alive."

    non sequitur

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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