TPP Talks Deadlocked; Still No Transparency

from the about-to-get-SOPA'd? dept

As Techdirt revealed a couple of days ago, one reason why the European Commission decided to refer ACTA to the European Court of Justice was a fear that another SOPA disaster was in the offing. It’s a little too early to be sure, but we may be seeing the first signs that the equally problematic TPP agreement is also running into problems because of heightened sensitivity to key issues in the wake of the Net-based revolt against SOPA.

Here’s a report by Sean Flynn, on the latest round of TPP negotiations, held recently in Australia:

Contrasting with apparent progress on some other chapters, which were declared “on track” by negotiators, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’s intellectual property chapter appears to have stalled in Melbourne. According to some sources, the 10 day negotiation yielded no meaningful progress on the intellectual property chapter. This is as some of the most controversial aspects of the U.S. proposal, including internet service liability and the “May 2007” access to medicines issues, came to the table.

The ISP liability issue is the familiar one of making intermediaries responsible for what their customers do. The result of bringing in laws to this effect would be to push ISPs to monitor their users and to block content in order to minimize the risk of being sued. TPP may not require surveillance and censorship, but those would be its inevitable consequences.

What’s new, though, is the growing general concern about TPP’s impact on access to medicines, particularly the low-cost generics that are important for many countries in the Pacific region. KEI’s Krista Cox wrote about this in her summary of the Melbourne meeting:

The afternoon session [of the TPP Stakeholder Forum] began with eight representatives of the generic pharmaceutical industry giving strong statements in opposition to the US “access window” text, opposing in particular the provisions related to patent term extensions, patent linkage, and exclusive rights over test data. These representatives noted that the US proposal would hinder access to affordable generic medicines

Cox’s report also makes clear that the TPP negotiators have still not heeded SOPA’s — and ACTA’s — lessons about the importance of real transparency:

The first question came in the form of request for greater transparency, including the release of the text, in order to permit the general public to be part of the process. The Australian chief negotiator stated that the stakeholder forum provides the primary way for stakeholders to participate and it is common practice not to release texts during negotiations of free trade agreements. He suggested that releasing the text would not be feasible because “nothing is agreed until it is agreed.”

Of course, that’s absurd: many members of the public are just as capable as reading a text with multiple, possibly conflicting, options as TPP negotiators are, and to pretend otherwise is insulting, to say the least. The continuing absence of any officially-released draft (we have some leaks) means that the TPP negotiation process is still less transparent than ACTA was — and will remain that way even after the treaty is concluded.

The Australian chief negotiator may think it is “common practice not to release texts during negotiations of free trade agreements”, but that was before SOPA. A decade ago, sharing drafts and soliciting feedback from the general public would have been difficult. Today, it’s easy. After SOPA, it’s unacceptable not to.

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Comments on “TPP Talks Deadlocked; Still No Transparency”

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John Doe says:

Gotta love a good "free" trade agreement

Everything and I mean everything that comes out of a politicians mouth these days is very well coached and has plenty of spin. There is nothing “free” about the free trade agreement. The really sad part, way beyond any IP issues and 3rd party liability, is the part about medicines. The fact that our government or any government would rather see people be sick and/or die due to lack of access to medicine is pathetic. How do we live in a world where corporations and politicians get to decide if we live or die?

copyrightdoesn'tmatter says:

Anonymous needs to do the following to the MAFIAA:

1) Hack into the bank accounts of all the MAFIAA upper execs and empty them out, as well as the accounts for the member studios and labels themselves. Simply change the figures in those accounts to zero and encrypt them so they can’t be changed back. Without money, the MAFIAA has no power.

2) Hack into the broadcast spectrum and override every TV channel’s content with continuous messages about the MAFIAA’s long history of abuses both past and current, with documented sources, so that the masses can get the true story easily. Sort of like a documentary that’s actually accurate and that plays over and over for as long as possible.

3) Hack into the mainframes of the MAFIAA and its member studios and labels, clear them out, and then delete everything both there and on the backup systems. Format those systems completely and bug them so they can’t be used again, if that’s possible. Expose all incriminating documents and emails of the upper execs online all across the web for all to see, and use them in the aforementioned broadcast as well.

If Anonymous did those things, they could destroy the MAFIAA instantly. If anyone from Anonymous is reading this, find ways to get it done. You’ll be doing the world a public service, and it’ll accomplish a lot more than just taking down websites for a day.

Anonymous Coward says:

I must disagree, TPP people have learned a ‘lesson’, the opposite that we want. Transparency causes more public interest in their proposed draconian laws, which helps them to be defeated. The only way to pass TPP is to rush it through before anyone knows what it is.

You think simply being transparent and telling everyone what’s in the bill means people will be a ok with letting such draconian laws pass? That’s like saying victims of rape will be fine being raped as long the rapist explains in great detail first exactly how they’ll rape you. Because obviously explaining it first will make it not such a bad thing when it actually happens!

Transparency will force them to water down TPP so much that it won’t be worth it to the people spending all the time and money pushing TPP through. And that’s the real reason why the people pushing TPP don’t want transparency.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s exactly right.

The whole point of transparency is to give the citizenry a chance to exert their power. Transparency is meaningless all by itself. It only counts because it gives an opportunity for action.

These people don’t want the rabble like us to have any say whatsoever in the laws that we must live by. They have their oligarchy, and want to maintain it. Actual transparency would make it more likely that we could have something like a democracy again.

Prisoner 201 says:

“nothing is agreed until it is agreed.”

If the public is allowed to provide feedback, perhaps what is agreed upon will look different?

He uses an agrument for increased transparity as an argument against transparency.

It really shows that the mentality of “We, The Important People” goes so deep to the core of these people that they dont even see it as evil.

“This is how we have always ruled over you, what are you being so noisy about?”

Anonymous Coward says:

yet again, none of the contents is going to be released to the public until after ‘agreement’ has been reached. that way, nothing can be altered and the concerns of the public can/will be meaningless anyway. it’s obvious the Aussi negotiator is in the pocket of at least one of the US self-interested parties.

has anyone even noticed that all of this type of agreement is not only being introduced by but also greatly favours US interests? does that not ring alarm bells? it’s as if no one else matters except USA and the rest of the World has an obligation to get it out of it’s self-inflicted financial shit, whilst bringing downfall everywhere else

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

has anyone even noticed that all of this type of agreement is not only being introduced by but also greatly favours US interests?

Not US interests, really. Multinational corporate interests. Despite their rhetoric or the location of their headquarters, multinational corporations have no sense of loyalty or obligation to the US.

Anonymous Coward says:

” A decade ago, sharing drafts and soliciting feedback from the general public would have been difficult. Today, it’s easy. After SOPA, it’s unacceptable not to.”

A very arrogant statement there Glyn. Feeling all powerful, are we?

You have elections in your country for a reason – to elect people to do this sort of thing for you. They cannot consult with everyone, every day, on every issue. That would be pointless.

Another AC says:

Re: Re:

“A very arrogant statement there Glyn. Feeling all powerful, are we?” This as opposed the arrogance of the negotiators? Come on.

“They cannot consult with everyone, every day, on every issue. That would be pointless.”

Consulting with a single person once might be a good start.

I don’t think you understand technology these days, and the power it brings and what it can do. It used to be pointless because it was difficult, now it’s easy! I doubt the negotiators will ever really get it, and I’m afraid you probably won’t either. Too bad.

Tim K (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Really, how many times do we have to tell you people that just because someone was elected does not give them the right to do whatever the hell they want. You will not find anyone who you agree with on everything, and lately it’s hard to find someone you agree with on the majority of things. The election is not (or should not) be the end of public input. There’s this nice invention called the internet where you can actually get instant and useful feedback. Also, it would be a nice start if they actually consulted people other than the *AA’s.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You have elections in your country for a reason – to elect people to do this sort of thing for you.

Wait. I remember voting for President, but I don’t remember voting for Ron Kirk at all.

And I certainly never voted for anyone from the US Chamber of Commerce, RIAA, MPAA, Philip Morris, Chevron, PhRMA, Microsoft, Pfizer, Amgen or Dow Chemical.

They cannot consult with everyone, every day, on every issue. That would be pointless.

Wrong. With today’s technology they certainly could do that. And it’s very telling that you think our elected officials or their representatives actually doing what the constitutes desire is “pointless”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Wait. I remember voting for President, but I don’t remember voting for Ron Kirk at all.”

You elected the president, one of the jobs you trusted him with was to select and appoint people to do these sorts of jobs.

Just like they won’t consult you on everything, they won’t consult you on every hiring as well.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just like they won’t consult you on everything, they won’t consult you on every hiring as well.

And that begs the question as to why not?

It’s understandable that such things weren’t feasible 20 years ago, but nowadays we have the technology to do such things. Online polling is instantaneous and easy to setup and use. If the only reason is “because that’s the way it has always been done”, then there really isn’t a reason at all, is there?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I know I’ve put this idea out before, but it’s still seems like it would be a worthwhile experiment.

Crowdsource funding to get a candidate elected (maybe start small with a state legislature) who bases all votes and decisions on online polling. When a bill comes up for vote, our representative puts the entire text of the bill up for review and their own perspective on it and asks his constituents directly whether he should support it or not. Of course there would be technical issues to work out such as limiting voting to actual constituents and other things so the systems doesn’t get gamed. A positive side effect would be the inability of lobbying groups to influence such a representative since they would actually have to follow their constituents wishes or face the fallout of not doing so.

We could call it the Transparent Party.

Prisoner 201 says:

Re: Re:

10/10: My pulse went up noticeable.

The troll not only manages to insult the author of the article, it also uses an argument for transparency against transparency by attaching a strawman at the end of a fact.



Elections (the fact):
Of course, elected representatives are supposed to watch out for our interests, and so should be very interested in our opinions. Secrecy goes directly against the very grain of representative democracy — that we, the people, can judge the representatives based on their actions.

Furthermore, I do not think the various non-government stakeholders that are informed were elected by a democratic process.

Consultation (the strawman):
Consultation implies meeting sessions, debates, in-depth discussions and similar time consuming tasks. This is of course impossible to do in a nation of millions. Nothing such was ever suggested.

Rather, it was suggested that the people is informed of the actions of its elected representatives, which is (thanks to the internet) incredibly easy, so that they can choose to reelect or not to reelect said representatives.

The strawman is similar enough to not blatantly stand out as trolling, despite being completely off topic, which is the kind of detail that makes this troll top-notch.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

given that the point in representative democracy has NOTHING to do with either of the words in it’s name and everything to do with avoiding revolts and assassinations and maintaining stability with the same groups in power all the time…

secrecy seems right up it’s ally, actually.

it’s a large part of what makes the system work (for those running it, at least.)

representative democracy…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, if you’re a citizen the only thing you’re allowed to do is vote and that’s it. Nothing else you can do, really. Nope. Nothing. Vote and quietly wait until you can vote again. The only responsibility a citizen has, voting and shutting the fuck up until it’s time to vote again. Yep. That’s how the system works!

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