Law Professor Questions The Absurd Secrecy Around The TPP Agreement
from the why-is-this-acceptable? dept
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by law professor David Levine for his radio show/podcast, Hearsay Culture. The episode has aired on the radio, and I believe it will go up as a podcast soon as well. However, he’s also written a fantastic article summarizing the absurdity of the secrecy around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement:
Imagine being invited to formally offer input on a huge piece of legislation, a proposed international agreement that could cover everything from intellectual property rights on the Internet to access to medicine to investment rights in the agreement’s signatory countries. For 10 minutes, you’d be able to say whatever you’d like about the proposed law—good, bad, or indifferent—to everyone involved in the negotiations. But there’s a caveat: All of your questions, all of your input, on what may be the most controversial part of the package, would have to be based on a version of the proposed international agreement that was 16 months old. And in that 16-month period, there were eight rounds of negotiations that could have changed any and all of the text to which you had access, but no one could tell you if that version was still accurate.
Would you still take the deal? This is not a hypothetical question; rather, this is the take-it-or-leave-it offer made to the public in May by the United States Trade Representative regarding the intellectual property rights chapter of the massively important but little-known Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
Levine is learning, first-hand, about “transparency” — USTR style, where everything is kept secret, but you’re cheerful about telling people who actually would like to help and could provide valuable feedback to come along… but then they’re never allowed to actually see the document in question.
This is a travesty. It’s certainly not democracy. It’s a joke carried out by a government department that appears to be out of control — focused mainly on helping a few industry groups with little concern about the public, despite how widely they’ll be impacted by such laws and rules.