Over 400 Groups, Representing 15 Million People, Demand 'New Direction' From USTR In TPP Negotiations

from the time-for-a-change dept

We were just talking about the insanity of the latest round of TPP negotiations happening under the continued cloak of secrecy. It appears that more and more people are beginning to question why this is allowed. A letter has been sent to Congress by over 400 groups representing over 15 million people demanding a "new direction" in the TPP negotiations. In particular, they say that the secrecy needs to go away and that the public needs to be able to comment on what is being negotiated in our name.
We find it troubling that, even as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement enters its 16th major round of negotiations this March in Singapore, U.S. negotiators still refuse to inform the American public what they have been proposing in our names. Shielding not only proposals, but agreed-upon texts from public view until after negotiations have concluded and the pact is finalized is not consistent with democratic principles. In this regard, the TPP appears to be even less transparent than some past trade negotiations. For example, in 2001, the United States joined with 33 other countries in releasing draft text of the Free Trade Area of the Americans, and draft texts within the World Trade Organization are frequently made available.
In terms of specifics, the letter asks Congress to reject the "Fast Track" authority that the USTR has been requesting. Congress, technically, is supposed to be in charge of regulating commerce with foreign nations. The USTR is seeking fast track authority because, without it, these negotiations and the resulting agreement have no basis in law.

Instead, the letter argues that Congress needs to rein in the USTR, to require them to be more open and public, to actually consult with the public, and to make sure that Congress will review the final agreement to ensure it is in the public's interest, rather than in the interest of a few select "industry advisory committees" whom the USTR relies on. Frankly, the letter could have been a lot stronger, but I'm guessing it needed to be slightly watered down to get all those groups to sign. Still, this letter isn't just from "the usual" public interest groups who have been complaining about TPP all along, and suggests that if the USTR continues on this secretive path, there is likely to be strong opposition from the public. We've suggested in the past that the USTR's failure to recognize why ACTA failed in Europe may come back to haunt them with the TPP, and this letter is yet another warning sign. Unfortunately, given the USTR's past behavior, it's likely to be a warning sign that is, once again, ignored.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Minimum Waged Shill, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 9:34pm

    You darn pirates, pirate Mike, you are going to ruin my free ride. Dang it, what the heck, all these 15 million pirates should all be in jail, how dare they try to fight for no laws at all. If you oppose some of the laws then you oppose any and all laws period. Pirate pirate mike and pirate techdirt fest where all you guys do is pirate everything

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 9:45pm

      Re:

      As an attempt to keep up with all the shills I am going to throw at you every shill fallacy I can think of that was used here on Techdirt

      First of all, if you oppose one law then you oppose any and all laws and you are a lawless pirate

      Secondly, only 15 million people are signed up to this petition, which means the rest of the 6+ billion people oppose this petition and are in favor of the secrecy and stricter IP laws.

      Thirdly, you are painting this whole thing with a broad broad brush.

      Thirdly, something about drinking too much Kool-Aid, whatever the heck that means.

      Firstly, there must be something more to this story

      There, how did I do?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 9:54pm

        Re: Re:

        not enough ad-hominem attacks.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 9:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I was going to throw some in there but I figure one of the other shills might get me for infringement

           

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 9:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Oh, and this is madness, it must be March

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 10:04pm

        Re: Re:

        The law should not be weakened, in fact more stuff should be made illegal because we do not want people breaking the law!

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 10:05pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hey, that's a good one, I'm going to use it

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 10:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Can anyone play.

          This is a nation of laws, so the more laws we have the more nation we have, people who break laws are trying to diminish the nation and are therefore traitors.

          Re-ask question of whether drone strikes can/will be used against US citizens in the USA or is it all above board and only dirty foreigners need to worry about death from the skies.

           

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        varagix, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 10:44pm

        Re: Re:

        the Kool-Aid bit is a reference to certain modern cults who had a penchant for convincing people who joined to perform mass suicide, usually via poison'd punch. Sorta a way of saying "you're too delusional to save now" or something of the sort.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 11:08am

        Re: Re:

        Needs more Cowbell....

        7/10

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 10:54pm

    15,000,000 represented by the groups. Just a hunch, but I rather doubt more than about 10-20 of them have any clue what this is all about. Kinda like the SOPA and ACTA ruckus.

     

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      PopeyeLePoteaux, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 12:27am

      Re: Riiiiight...

      I suppose from the millions who signed all those petitions when SOPA/PIPA was a threat only 10-20 had a clue. Or what about the ACTA protests in Europe? I guess there were only a handful of people who knew how dangerous ACTA was.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 2:30am

      Re:

      15,000,000 represented by the groups. Just a hunch, but I rather doubt more than about 10-20 of them have any clue what this is all about.

      Are you always so condescending to the public? Your hunch is bullshit.

      Kinda like the SOPA and ACTA ruckus.

      In which the public stood up for their rights.

      Sorry if that upsets you.

       

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        gorehound (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 5:11am

        Re: Re:

        I have been trying hard to get my Punk Rockin Art Fans and my friends motivated to Fight Back.
        People are just like a bunch of Sheep.The World of Tomorrow is going to be one scary place.
        Good Luck to my Grandson and Sorry for the World we left you.I tried to fight the Law and the Law Won.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 11:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I made the decision to remain celibate for life a couple of years ago. For people that aren't asleep, the future is looking increasingly doubleplusungood as each year goes by. If the people lose this war, I don't want to have it on my conscience that I subjected a son or grandson to Orwell's nightmare.

           

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            nasch (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Meanwhile, you're making the future demographic problems (too many old people and not enough young people to take care of them) even worse by not having kids. That's your right of course, but don't think your actions don't have any harmful consequences.

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 7:30am

        Re: Re:

        Glad you noticed my comment was as to the letter, and not that portion of the article original to TD.

        Having read to the list of "400", perhaps I should revise my number upward from "10-20" to "11-21".

        As for the "SOPA and ACTA ruckus", it was just that, resembling more a reality show vote than a knowledgeable expression by "voters" on the substantive providions of a pending US bill and a trade agreement. Feed the public FUD, use the internet to spread the FUD, and then watch as an ignorant public buys into "chicken little" horribles.

         

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          Ed C., Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Feed the public FUD, use the internet to spread the FUD, and then watch as an ignorant public buys into "chicken little" horribles.

          Oh, I see...you expect to have a monopoly on the horrors of copyright too.

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Having read to the list of "400", perhaps I should revise my number upward from "10-20" to "11-21".


          Your bullshit condescension is duly noted.

          And the response: you're still full of shit.

          As for the "SOPA and ACTA ruckus", it was just that, resembling more a reality show vote than a knowledgeable expression by "voters" on the substantive providions of a pending US bill and a trade agreement.

          This is simply untrue, as someone who was deeply involved in it. Were there some people who didn't fully understand the nuances? Absolutely. But for the most part, the public was MUCH more well informed than "your" side on the issue, which spewed such incredible FUD and bullshit that you should be embarrassed.

          Feed the public FUD, use the internet to spread the FUD, and then watch as an ignorant public buys into "chicken little" horribles.

          No, that's what the maximalists have done for years, with their claims of the sky falling if they don't get shit like SOPA. The public finally learned that was bullshit and spoke up. Sorry if that ruined your day, but you'll get over it.

           

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      [citation needed or GTFO], Mar 7th, 2013 @ 6:46am

      Re:

      Just a hunch, but I rather doubt more than about 10-20 of them have any clue what this is all about. Kinda like the SOPA and ACTA ruckus.

      When you apply those statements toward Congress' methods of passing laws, I totally agree.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        Congress is another issue entirely...but I do remember that when Obamacare was passed even Congress had not read it.

         

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          nasch (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I do remember that when Obamacare was passed even Congress had not read it.

          This has nothing to do with Obamacare; members rarely read the legislation they debate and vote on.

           

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      Gwiz (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:36am

      Re:

      15,000,000 represented by the groups. Just a hunch, but I rather doubt more than about 10-20 of them have any clue what this is all about.


      Then you agree that the USTR should be more transparent in these matters. Good to know.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:56am

        Re: Re:

        No, about 11-21 demanding transparency. Everyone else of the 15,000,000 could care less. Seriously, bricklayers and other local tradesmen are in a tizzy about trade agreements?

         

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          Gwiz (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Seriously, bricklayers and other local tradesmen are in a tizzy about trade agreements?


          Why wouldn't they be?

          In the early 90's here in the Detroit area, everyone from the local greasy spoon waitress to Big 3 CEO's were in a tizzy about NAFTA. Why do you think this is any different?

           

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          silverscarcat (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 6:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Small time farmers and trade workers keep yelling about Trade Agreements not being fair to the little guy and only helping the big guy out.

          So, yeah.

          local tradesmen DO get upset about trade agreements.

          You'd do well to leave the MPAA and live in the real world once in awhile.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 12:15am

    I wonder of Venezuela might not now join TPP or ACTA. Now that Hugo Chavez is gone, I fear that could happen. Chavez was one of those that would certainly have told the USTR to to take a hike.

    With Chavez gone, I think you can expect Venezuela to join either TPP or ACTA.

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 1:41am

      Re:

      Say what you want about Chavez, but at least he kept is country out of the pockets of corrupt corporations who simply buy governments and use them to pass whatever laws they need.

      Now, that he is dead, I fear that Venezuela will be sold to the highest bidder.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 12:27am

    I'm disappointed that the other shills did not mark my comments as insightful. I guess I must not be shillful enough.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 2:04am

    It won't make a blind bit of difference really. The corporations behind these negotiations are too big and powerful and the public and interest groups are too small to matter. Power always goes to those with the money and that is not these 400 groups or 15 million people.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 2:13am

    15 million filthy criminals you mean Mike? Freetards that are too accustomed to theft? I think we need more jails in the US.

    /troll

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 4:41am

    Interesting that the letter never even mentions copyright or IP law.

     

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    Violated (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    Balls

    Nice, 15 million concerned citizens united in public interest groups have just kicked TPP in the vitals.

    I am not sure what will become of this when Congress has really done nothing to hold ACTA to account but as least this should wake them up.

     

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    Ben (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 11:56pm

    TPP

    Trans-Parent Partnership it aint

     

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    The Real Michael, Mar 8th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Enough already

    The public will fight against TPP and any other attempt by the content and pharmaceutical industries to grab more power at our expense. To hell with their stupid copyright/IP. The government is supposed to work for the people, not enforce the will of the corporate suits.

     

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    meehmud eehmad syyed, Apr 21st, 2013 @ 12:56am

    bussiness

     

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