Petition With 90,000 Signatures Of People Worried About TPP Hand Delivered To USTR Negotiators

from the will-it-matter dept

USTR negotiators have basically acted as if they represent the interests of big businesses in their negotiations on various trade proposals. That’s why we get things like ACTA, TPP and various “free trade agreements” (FTAs) that all seem to focus on carving out protections for specific special interests who just happen to sit on the USTR’s “advisory committees.” What they often forget is that they’re supposed to be representing the public. But, at times, they’re so disconnected from the public that what’s best for the actual country rarely seems to enter into the thought process. Of course, with the uprising against ACTA, perhaps some people at the USTR are beginning to wake up to the fact that their roles aren’t just about making special interests happy. The recent admission that limitations and exceptions are important in copyright is a sign that this kind of thinking may be filtering through.

Last week, a group of public interests organizations also hand delivered an online petition that was signed by over 90,000 people raising concerns about TPP. I generally don’t think much of online petitions like this, but in this situation, where’s it’s incredibly important for the USTR to recognize that the public and internet users are watching — and are concerned — something like this seems like it could be helpful in at least making the USTR negotiators recognize that the public matters.

Of course, for them to prove that they really understand that, they’d need to start being a hell of a lot more transparent, such as by releasing the US recommendations that are being negotiated. Until that happens, it’s difficult to trust the USTR to really be looking out for the public’s best interests.

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Comments on “Petition With 90,000 Signatures Of People Worried About TPP Hand Delivered To USTR Negotiators”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 2 > 90,000

“Obviously it is, cause everyone knows that really those groups represent hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people…”

And how many of those signed on for reasons other then extreme copyright, or, hell, the abolishment of privacy.

For those that did, well, i dont need their works in my life, after all, its only a “luxury item…./s”

Anonymous Coward says:

Online petitions are sort of meaningless. Most of them do not have good duplicate checks, don’t confirm signatures, and certainly don’t seem worried if the person is actually subject to the thing being complained about.

90,000 is a very low number for an online petition anyway, perhaps no sites like Techdirt got on the bandwagon to send them flock over to sign.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Yes - thats it!

The Mighty Buzzard
“I say we take off and nuke em from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

no, no, no, no, thats a bit extreme My good chap, its not like thEy would do somethinG equally extreme, you understAnd, we mUst treat them with the same gracious resPect they’ve so humbLy given us. tally hO AnD all that, what what

Arrr matey – a pirate I am sez I

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

The key question is will this wake up the USTR to the extent that they take the US Congress, other legislatures like the Australian Parliament AND the public have a right to know what’s going on. And then there’s the joke that has Canada and Mexico as 5th rate participants in the TPP negotiations.

What’s so amusing to me about this is that I’ll wager that the major non-participant, China, has cleaved the veil of “transparency” around TPP and knows every word, sentence, dot, comment and observation and who said or proposed it all.

Not that I’m saying this as if China is doing something nasty here. If an agreement of this scope were being negotiated with the United States on the sideline I’d be sure they’d be doing exactly what China is doing now.

The other reason for saying this is that between the petition and China’s “national interest” is to let the USTR know that they’re being watched. Closely. Being so opaque about this while claiming transparency just raises suspicions and cynicism about what’s going on behind the veil.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Email?

I tried to do this and it seems that the IP office is not setup to have a lot of phone calls. Left a polite message with them and also with a public relations person, Issac Faz, his number is 202-393-5663. “My name is” I’m a US citizen from “State” my phone number is “xxx-yyy-zzzz” and I’m concerned about how ACTA and TPP are negotiated in secret and NOT approved by the US Senate like all other trade treaties, thanks for listening. If others call perhaps we can change a few minds at USTR.

andrew me (profile) says:

laugh at them

That is all you can do, they will ignore the public again because losing with 2 treaties is not much seeing they pass new treaties all the time, Only when they lose tpp and the next one after that will they start really getting worried that the public has actually caught onto the anti everyone but the industry farce they keep trying to push through for approval. Personally i doubt TPP will pass, is has similar ideals as the two they previously tried to pass so why would this be different,

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

nah. most of the time that’s not the Cause. it’s just the reason it’s not been Fixed.

(example: it’s amazing how much of the economic issues of any country can be put down to a combination of using a national or super-national currency (rather than one per city-region) and insisting on treating the Nation as a (the) meaningful economic entity, (which it Isn’t. economically, you’ve got the city-region (or a couple of types of equivalent entities which don’t have a city in them) and then… the entire world. ) both of which result in false feedback on economic conditions and thus incorrect actions in response.)

there are, of course, exceptions. (the whole IP and transparancy issue(s) is pretty much pure corruption.)

Ophelia Millais says:

Re: Re:

Given that the stakeholders represent industry, that’s probably exactly their position; there’s at least that many people in the music and movie business. When these industries feel threatened, they routinely trot out figures showing their industry consists of hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihood depends on some form of cart blanche or other.

“What they often forget is that they’re supposed to be representing the public.”?Masnick

I think that’s a false assumption. The USTR is an appointed, Cabinet-level position, and the USTR office’s mission is to promote trade, i.e. boost international business for American companies. The USTR simply isn’t tasked with “representing the public” other than by taking steps to ensure that U.S. trade goals can be realized. That is, the American public has an interest in American companies doing well (as related to business conducted with other nations), but any other concerns the public might have aren’t relevant. Not saying I agree with it.

International trade agreements often involve making concessions that are certain to incense a sizable number of people across party lines, be it the public or companies and industries which benefit from the status quo. That’s why these agreements get on the “Fast Track” and are negotiated, approved and implemented with as little public involvement and awareness as possible. Again, not saying I agree with it.

Petitioning the USTR and its negotiators not to undermine the public interest can’t hurt, and as a step toward raising public awareness it’s rather a good thing. But arguing that the USTR is “supposed to be representing the public” is surely unpersuasive to those who actually work there, since the office’s structure and mission, and the fact that it’s in the Executive branch, have long meant it is by design wholly oblivious and unaccountable to the public.

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