Once Again, Public Interest Groups Kicked Out When Trying To Present Concerns About TPP

from the no-respect-at-all dept

It's really quite astounding how terribly obnoxious supporters of the ridiculous TPP agreement have become. This Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is being negotiated entirely in secret -- even as the USTR lies and claims the process is transparent at an "unprecedented" level. Of course, it seems that transparency only extends to big industry lobbyists who support the agreement's concepts already. For everyone else, we're told it's a matter of national security. Furthermore, rather than be transparent, it appears that the TPP negotiators are bending over backwards to (a) not allow those representing the public to even speak, while (b) spending as much time as possible with Hollywood lobbyists. It's as if the USTR and other TPP negotiators are so sure they've completely rigged the process that they're showing off just how little they care about the public.

Honestly, the whole thing is a scandal in the making.

In February, a bunch of groups representing public interests scheduled a public hearing about concerns with TPP in the same hotel where the TPP negotiations were going on... and the USTR apparently contacted the hotel and had them kicked out. The night before all of this? The negotiators went and partied at a Hollywood studio with the key lobbyists. Yeah, the USTR can't even stand to be in the same building as those concerned about the public, but will party with the lobbyists. A few weeks later, some big corporate interests hosted a dinner for ACTA negotiators. Public interest groups found out about it at the last minute and were told they were not welcome. When questioned about this in a Senate hearing, the USTR Ron Kirk took a totally condescending attitude, still insisting unprecedented transparency, even as Senator Wyden pointed out that wasn't even close to true.

And, of course, it gets even worse. One of the things that the USTR had talked about in the past was about how "transparent" they were when holding various "stakeholder" sessions that let people express their concerns. Of course, most of these are free-for-all's and they're positioned to limit the exposure of the concerns -- but at least there was some attempt in the past to offer people a voice. Not any more. As we noted recently, the US has done away with the stakeholder meeting. So the public interest groups are, once again, left out.

Now, the very latest is that during meetings in Chile, public interest groups once again sought to host a stakeholders meeting, and got an agreement to host it at the University of Chile School of Law. The whole thing was organized, and they even had a big name local politician signed up as the keynote speaker. The dean of the school was all for it... and then, two days before the meeting, the University canceled the meeting. Once again, the public interest groups were shut out. It's not entirely clear why, but there is tremendous speculation that the cancellation was due to a faculty member who consults heavily with the pharmaceutical industry.

Either way, it seems clear that there is influence peddling going on here, and it's astounding that the USTR seems to think that these moves won't backfire and just make it look worse. In talking to someone who was in Chile working with the public interest groups, it's been claimed that many of the delegates had no idea this would happen -- and were quite upset that the USTR had basically hijacked the process. The organizers of the event were actually able to find an alternative, but it is too bad that they had to spend days scrambling to figure this out.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 4:06pm

    would someone like to state which parts concerning the pharmaceutical and entertainment industries etc that are so crucial to 'National Security' that they have to be kept absolutely secret? i mean, if a new drug has been invented that will perhaps make Mickey Mouse real, i can understand why the rest of the democratic world would need to be kept in the dark!

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 13th, 2012 @ 4:21pm

    Re:

    The parts that decimate the rights of the rest of the world.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 5:27pm

    Re:

    The U.S. government made the same national security nonsense claims when trying to negotiate ACTA in secrecy, while allowing industry interests to participate in these negotiations, and the leaks showed that this all turned out to be a lie as well. If anyone thinks our government has any credibility whatsoever they are either ignorant or deluded.

     

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  4.  
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    Watchit (profile), Apr 13th, 2012 @ 5:29pm

    all of my rage... >:S

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 6:15pm

    A few weeks later, some big corporate interests hosted a dinner for ACTA negotiators. Public interest groups found out about it at the last minute and were told they were not welcome.

    So when Google hosts an event for lawmakers to talk about its position on SOPA, then public interest groups like the Copyright Alliance and Creative America are entitled to attend?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 6:18pm

    Now, the very latest is that during meetings in Chile, public interest groups once again sought to host a stakeholders meeting, and got an agreement to host it at the University of Chile School of Law. The whole thing was organized, and they even had a big name local politician signed up as the keynote speaker. The dean of the school was all for it... and then, two days before the meeting, the University canceled the meeting. Once again, the public interest groups were shut out. It's not entirely clear why, but there is tremendous speculation that the cancellation was due to a faculty member who consults heavily with the pharmaceutical industry.


    So in Chile, a faculty member tells the Dean of the school the way things are going to be? Add another layer of foil to that hat.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    arcan, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 6:45pm

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership IS unprecedentedly transparent. Transparency that low has never been achieved before.

     

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  8.  
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    Atkray (profile), Apr 13th, 2012 @ 7:05pm

    Re:

    I don't know about Chile, but across the Andes in Argentina (where I lived for years)yes such a thing is entirely possible. Money, especially US currency can accomplish unimaginable things.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re:

    Too bad the only thing lacking is even a sliver of proof.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 7:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Really? What university were you affiliated with?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 9:28pm

    "It's not entirely clear why, but..it seems clear..."

    I never realized that lack of clarity equates with clarity. To me it seems counterintuitive.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 5:57am

    Hey Masnick, why don't you also report that when the talks move to Dallas on May 8 that the groups that you claim are being locked out will all be manning information booths in the hotel where the delegates are staying? If the delegates are interested, they can spend the whole day with them. Why don't you rent a booth so you can treat the delegates to your incessant whining.

     

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  13.  
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    no (profile), Apr 14th, 2012 @ 6:34am

    national security? yeah when i think that i think of "pharmaceutical and entertainment industries" really obama? that is the most stupid excuse i've ever heard

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Apr 14th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    You think that others speaking out for their rights is "whining"? I suppose in your world, the only ones with any rights are those who can afford to "pay" for them.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Dreddsnik, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 11:40am

    " Hey Masnick, why don't you also report that when the talks move to Dallas on May 8 that the groups that you claim are being locked out will all be manning information booths in the hotel where the delegates are staying? "

    We'll wait until May 8th to see just what information booths
    are actually allowed to be there. The pattern has been to allow those with alternate ideas there with lip service only. When the day actually comes, however, they're are asked to leave with no explanation. When that happens, I can't wait to see how you respond here.

    To Mr. Masnick ....

    " Either way, it seems clear that there is influence peddling going on here, and it's astounding that the USTR seems to think that these moves won't backfire and just make it look worse. "

    I think we've reached the point where they feel they no longer have to care how it looks. They are certain that no matter how it looks, there isn't anything we can actually do about it. I'm not so sure they're wrong.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Its whining when all you do is complain but take no action.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    Re:

    Since these 'public interest' groups really represent industry interests and the industry, composed of the same members that already attend these meetings representing industry interests, then what's the difference? These groups you mention already attend, just not under their astroturfing name, but under their name that represents industry interests.

    and I don't mind the groups you mention attending. No one is saying they can't or shouldn't attend. They should be allowed to attend, these policy meetings should be open to the public for anyone to attend. They should also be recorded and broadcasted on public television and the Internet, since broadcasting spectra should be used for the public interest and not simply for the interests of big corporate entities.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    "So when Google hosts an event for lawmakers to talk about its position on SOPA, then public interest groups like the Copyright Alliance and Creative America are entitled to attend?"

    They should be allowed to attend too.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So then what kind of 'action' do you suppose we take? Public interest groups are already trying to take 'action'.

    Informing the public about the government-industrial complex's selfish agenda is not whining, it's an important component of democracy.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Guess what, they're not welcome. Not every encounter needs to be opposing sides debating in front of delegates. If one side wishes to host an event for the delegation there's no duty to invite the opposition. Is Techdirt entitled to attend an event for Congressional committee members hosted at the MPAA? Good manners alone should lead you to the appropriate answer.

     

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  21.  
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    Watchit (profile), Apr 14th, 2012 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem here is the disproportionate amount of attention a certain industry is receiving by policy makers, while ignoring the people they are supposed to represent. Since the USTR is not allowing any other way for the public interest groups to have their voice heard, the only way the public interests groups can get a word in is by trying to get as close as possible to any TPP meeting they can find out about. And don't say anything about public interest groups not having a right to at least make their positions heard, which would just support my position that the system is unbalanced.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Apr 14th, 2012 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know of any either, but it is possible, and seems mighty suspicious to me. You may call me paranoid, I call it being mature enough to realize that not everything is rainbows and chocolate rain, things like this do happen.

     

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  23.  
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    Watchit (profile), Apr 14th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

    Re:

    I'd say it's about as clear as a tar pit.

     

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  24.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Apr 14th, 2012 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do you consider all protests "whining" when they don't immediately achieve their goals?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Jonathan, Apr 15th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    If not, that dinner is tantamount to bribery.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    sAng, Apr 15th, 2012 @ 9:42am

    Corruption

    Well, here's something you don't see from other news outlets, very informative and disturbing. Those fat cats should be held accountable to their actions.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Did you not read that the public interest groups did indeed host an event for the delegates? They were heard. Quit crying. All I said was they're not entitled to attend a private event sponsored by another group.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:04am

    Re: Re: Re:

    >Guess what, they're not welcome.

    Are you speaking from experience?

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    The Moondoggie, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:58am

    Re:

    Cowardly trolling is cowardly.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 9:21pm

    so , your whole story has maybe two facts, they got thier party cancelled due to some bigger party being held there and you lunge into conspiracy and fox news reporting useing unamed anonymous sources........

    sad little troll your are mike, of thats right, your an opinion blog when called out on things, but a reporter when you feel liek getting on your soap box, which seems to be everyday

     

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


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