Out ACTA-ing ACTA: All TPP Negotiating Documents To Be Kept Secret Until Four Years After Ratification

from the it's-a-secret-it's-a-secret dept

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has now been signed by several nations even if its actual status is by no means clear. But that doesn't mean governments have finished with their trade negotiations behind closed doors. As Techdirt reported earlier this year, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is, in some ways, even worse than ACTA, and looks to be a conscious attempt to apply the tricks developed there to circumvent scrutiny yet further.

For example, like ACTA, TPP is being negotiated in secret. But that, apparently, is not enough: a memorandum has been signed that stipulates only the final treaty will be revealed at the conclusion of the negotiations:
The parties have apparently agreed that all documents except the final text will be kept secret for four years after the agreement comes into force or the negotiations collapse. This reverses the trend in many recent negotiations to release draft texts and related documents. The existence of agreement was only discovered through a cover note to the leaked text of the intellectual property chapter.
Not only that, but it seems that even the memorandum about secrecy is going to remain secret:
An open letter to Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser from unions, civil liberties, church, public health, development, environmental and trade justice groups has demanded the release of the secrecy document. The Green Party and Mana Movement have both endorsed the call.

The release of the secrecy memorandum was requested during the Chicago round of negotiations in early October. New Zealand lead negotiator Mark Sinclair has asked for responses from the other countries, but there is no guarantee they will agree.
In fact, if the ACTA negotiations are anything to go by, they certainly won't, because the US won't let them it blocked attempts by other negotiating parties to release ACTA drafts.

It's not hard to see why the US wants to keep its dirty laundry private. Like the recently-signed bilateral trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, these treaties are incredibly one-sided, essentially giving the US media companies everything they are demanding in an attempt to prop up their dying business models through disproportionate copyright enforcement legislation around the world. The drafts would presumably make that much clearer.

Of course, that these US industries should seek such advantageous terms is only natural. What's not so clear is why other countries continue to acquiesce, when the treaties are plainly bad for both their citizens and their own creative industries (although various Wikileaks cables give us a hint). A good first step in re-asserting their sovereignty would be to insist on real transparency as a pre-condition for trade negotiations with the US and no more secret memoranda about secrecy.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Jeff (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Why four years?? What is so special about four years??

    *** Waits four years ***

    Me (asks for documents)

    TPP - these documents are now secret for the lifetime of every single negotiator + 95 years! We don't want them (or their descendants) to be embarrased by the revelation of who bought them...

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    Re:

    Why four years?? What is so special about four years??


    Maybe after that period nobody can prosecute them for the way they illegally signed it?

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 2:46pm

    Psycho?

    If the United States were a mental patient--the way it's acting leads me to believe it will become a bloody psychotic mess eventually. Until then, it will act sweet and nice and totally suppress all emotional outbursts.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Chris Brand, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Re:

    Aren't there elections in the US every 4 years ? So this is enough time that "That was a different government" can be used as an excuse.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 3:02pm

    Aren't governments supposed to serve the public will and interests? If they're supposed to represent the public, then why are they hiding proposed legislation away from the public that they're supposed to represent? Is it because they know that this legislation is not publicly representative?

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    From what country does the most sought after software applications emanate?

    Same question for the entertainment industries.

    While this is not to suggest that the United States leads the pack in all areas, clearly it is the preeminent source of such products. It hardly seems surprising that those who create such products would prefer that persons in other countries not rip them off.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    Kaden (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    Could you explain how your observation is in any way related to the post topic?

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

    And the world is confused why there are over 900 OCCUPY related protests in 82 countries.

    And somehow the "leaders" think they can continue in the same fashion that lead us to this much public outcry against putting the "rights" of corporations so far above those of the people.

    Not every OCCUPY protest is the same, but one can imagine one of the driving factors is the government ignoring the people they are supposed to represent.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    It's related because you idiots are complaining about laws that nobody objects to unless you're a pirate.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    then why are you pirating you fucking freetard?

     

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

  11.  
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    Kaden (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I thought this post was related to the relentless secrecy surrounding treaty negotiations. Such noble legislation should occur in the full light of day where its purity of purpose can serve as moral inspiration for us all.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are correct, but then the author decided to wax poetic with the last two gratuitous paragraphs.

     

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

  13.  
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    Kaden (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Then you agree that such clandestine lawmaking is unbecoming to a democracy?

     

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

  14.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 4:23pm

    Re:

    While this is not to suggest that the United States leads the pack in all areas, clearly it is the preeminent source of such products. It hardly seems surprising that those who create such products would prefer that persons in other countries not rip them off.

    Which has nothing to do with anything in the post.

    Why even bring it up?

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Joe, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 4:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Indeed! How can we, the lesser denizens of society, bask in the glorious enlightenment of such a forward thinking and inspired work of global co-operation written by such majestic leaders of industry and government, if hidden where only a few should know it's glory :(

    If only they'd done this with the printing press, maybe the world would be a better place today!!

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Seriously, if nobody objected I would make it a propaganda item and use it to make me look good, but if it is uggly and nobody want to hear about it I would try to hide it so nobody gets mad about it.

    This may be why people call you dumb you can't even master the basics of social behaviour, I hope you are over 30 it is shameful not to know those things after that age.

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    Keith_Emperor_of_Penguins (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

    Re:

    Neostyles? What are you doing here?

    I thought you only post on torrentfreak.com

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 5:33pm

    At this stage of the game, I consider nothing short of full disclosure on absolutely everything to be acceptable. At this point I consider the federal government to be a bigger threat to the American people than anything a foreign country might learn.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Cowards, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Really? So those guys who speak out about Protect IP breaking the internet are ALL pirates? I thought they were the guys who built the internet, law professors, people concerned with censorship/right to privacy in general, etc. Hmm... go figure. You learn something new every day.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re:

    See #12 above. It should answer your question.

     

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

  21.  
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    The Logician (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 6:04pm

    Logic clearly dictates that when such complete and long-lasting obscurity is sought, it follows that what it is intended to hide is not something those who seek it wish for the rest of the world to know of. Which means that it is not something beneficial to the world at large, otherwise it would not be hidden. Therefore, we must deduce that those behind TPP do not serve the public interest, but only their own. TPP, therefore, is not deserving of public support, and must be opposed and exposed.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 6:19pm

    Keeping something secret in the age of the internet? Good luck with that.

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    Keith_Emperor_of_Penguins (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 6:25pm

    Re:

    You're wasting your time Spock. These are people that would deny technological advancement and social evolution, for their own backwards greed and selfishness. Their kind has been breaking technology and progress for centuries. They are the ones that burned books, destroyed libraries, killed mathematicians and philosophers. All to keep the status quo suited for their own needs.

     

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

  24.  
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    The Logician (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    Re: Re:

    I am aware of that. I merely attempt to point out their errors for the benefit of others who may be reading. Expose them enough, and the trolls will trip over their own words, often without anyone's help. Logic helps to facilitate that process.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Keith_Emperor_of_Penguins (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    in that case, I salute you! You're performing a valuable public service(And doing it with style to boot!)

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 7:25pm

    Its very clear why other countries acquiesce. Even though USA is part of the WTO , it will enact severe trade blockades, like it threatened New Zealand with.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 7:58pm

    Re:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka4L0jGF_-Q

    This video discusses the fact that much of our modern software that we take for granted was built partly thanks to the absence of (enforced) patents.

    and Microsoft has copied FOSS software on many things, such as tabbed browsing (originating from Firefox) among many other things.

    The question isn't, should product makers prefer anti-competitive laws favoring them (of course they do), the question is, what promotes the progress more. IP should never be about preventing anyone from being 'ripped off' since no one is rightfully entitled to a government established monopoly to begin with, it should only be about promoting the progress and the general welfare. and the evidence suggests that we are better off without IP.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "It's related because you idiots are complaining about laws that nobody objects to unless you're a pirate."

    [citation needed]

    If no one objects to these laws then there should be little reason for these agreements to be negotiated in secret.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Blow Their Cover

    If the non-US countries had any smarts, they would blow the secrecy at every chance they had. Copies of any and all documents would mysteriously show up on Wikileaks. Then they should say things like, "Well, it's up on Wikileaks now, so it's public." When the US gets upset (which it will), then play the usual games. Minimize it. Laugh at it. Pretend not to understand why the US is upset. Demand long tedious explanations from the US. Stand on sovereignty. Cloak yourself in "the people have a right to know". Say "we need a full public discussion before we could consider ratifying this". Threaten to hold a referendum.

    Lovely political point scoring fun can be had by all. What is the US going to do to retaliate? Kick them out? Say goodbye to any agreement. Trade retaliation? Crank up the whining about USA not playing fair.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:52pm

    Re: Trade Blockades

    The USA can threaten, but can they deliver? Suppose they try to stop buying commodity X from NZ. Meanwhile, they are still buying from countries A, B, C, etc. Meet the lovely chaps called arbitrageurs. They buy from NZ, relabel it so that it appears to come from A, B, C, etc. and send it on to USA. Also, NZ is selling into an international market and there is an international price. Other customers will be happy to buy from NZ even if the USA will not. The trade just rebalances.

    Politicians do not have nearly as much power as they think to stop sales between willing sellers and willing buyers. The arbitrageurs are out there looking for tiny price differences and making a profit by eliminating them. Have a look at the futile "war on drugs". The price to the consumer has been forced up, but the international wholesale price is at record lows. That is for commodities which are allegedly totally illegal and should have no market at all. The drug traders get a good laugh out of it.

    NZ should just stand on their sovereignty, do what they want, then scream loud and long when USA tries to retaliate. Make USA look like bullies and hypocrites. That will get a sympathetic hearing in a lot of places.

     

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

  31.  
    icon
    Ben Ash (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 11:33pm

    History is written by the winners

    I look forward to the day when governments start paying attention to what the people want. The rise of social networking is enabling peaceable demonstration in volumes not seen before.

    I look forward to the day that anyone who helped pass such draconian laws restricting freedom of artistic expression and trampling on basic human rights is held as accountable for crimes against humanity as a war criminal.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    TaCktiX, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:39am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, tabs originated in a browser back in the early 90's.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 2:39am

    Re: History is written by the winners

    > I look forward to the day that anyone who helped pass such draconian laws restricting freedom of artistic expression and trampling on basic human rights is held as accountable for crimes against humanity as a war criminal.

    I am more modest. I look forward to the day they do not have the power to do that harm anymore.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 4:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hence freedom to use things instead of paying somebody who can't do anything except cry about being ripped off.

     

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

  35.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:26pm

    Re:

    if nothing else, it's longer than a New Zealand election term, meaning odds are good that the information contained there in will have no meaningful effect on the election chances of whoever signed it here.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Blow Their Cover

    apparantly in ACTA, most such leaks came out of the EU.

    guess who's not involved in the TPP?

     

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

  37.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    actually, NZ could do with more such things, depending on exactly what they are.

    constant pursuit of free trade deals has crippled large chunks of our economy that used to be quite productive, limiting our capacity for growth.

     

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

  38.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re:

    that is, them refusing to sell to us would be a good thing, and as pointed out above, refusal to buy from us wouldn't have that much effect.

     

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

  39.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: History is written by the winners

    yeah, unfortunately that time will probably come when they die of old age.... and are replaced by another of the same ilk.

    Ben's desire reduces the odds of the successor simply repeating the same mistakes. (or at least repeating them in the same way.)

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 10:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    What browser is that? I first saw them in firefox, I've never seen them before. Certainly not from IE or Netscape.

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 10:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, I guess the first was an IE add on

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetCaptor

    Though it was proprietary at first, it didn't take long before it was freely released once its development stopped. Still, Microsoft freely copied the idea and it never implemented it until Firefox released it first, so IE likely copied it from Firefox. Yet MS has all sorts of patents that it never lets anyone else use.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 10:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    MS has all sorts of patents on ideas that it never lets anyone else use * (ideas that it really shouldn't have patents on).

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Then again, to Microsoft's credit, they haven't gone after things like Open office. So when compared to many, they are much better, though what MS has been doing lately is ridiculous.

     

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

  44.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Trade Blockades

    That will get a sympathetic hearing in a lot of places.

    Especially from us US citizens who are tired of our government pulling this bs.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Josh Taylor, Nov 11th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Better call Microsoft and Apple no cut/copy/paste in their next version of Windows and Mac.

    Next anti-piracy trade agreement will include.

    - Criminalizing private acts of infringement in homes and in public.

    - Require UK-style wireless surveillance cameras in homes around the world to monitor your everyday life with speakers saying "No", "Stop that", "That's infringement", "You can't draw that", "You can't quote that', etc.

    - make it mandatory to have DRM-thought police chips in the brain to make sure you obey copyright, be silent, uncreative, unproductive and buy their products.

     

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


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