New USTR Nominated; Will He Commit To Transparency?

from the don't-bet-on-it dept

President Obama has nominated Michael Froman to be the new USTR, to take over for Ron Kirk who stepped down recently. Most of the stories on Froman note that he’s well known in this space and has been a key player in a number of trade agreements — including with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. That should worry us all, because those three awful trade agreements more or less set the tone for ACTA and TPP with their incredible levels of secrecy, combined with ridiculous and extreme intellectual property provisions.

People have noted that South Korea’s free trade agreement was “the model” for ACTA, which included exceptionally ridiculous copyright rules. In fact, most recently, South Korea is starting to push back and reconsider those rules that were pushed on it by the US. The agreement in Panama led to that country passing what some referred to as the worst copyright law in history. And, as for Colombia, you may remember that it rushed through its own dreadful version of SOPA in a mad dash to get into “compliance” with that free trade agreement a week before Obama was set to visit.

So all three of those “historic” trade agreements included really nasty copyright provisions. Is this really the guy we want leading the USTR?

The folks over at the EFF are asking Froman to agree to end the policy of secrecy with negotiations on free trade agreements. If Froman gets the job, he’ll be in charge of both the TPP and TAFTA. He should first agree that intellectual property has no place in free trade agreements, drop those sections from the two agreements while also agreeing that the USTR will be transparent in what it’s asking for on our behalf. That means actually telling the public what it is proposing, rather than keeping it a secret.

The EFF has also set up a petition demanding that the new USTR end backroom negotiations and promise to stop legacy corporate interests from sneaking in ways to regulate the internet through these secret trade negotiations.

Earlier this year, we noted that it was trade agreements like the one with South Korea that now effectively prevent Congress from allowing you to unlock your phone. Froman has significant responsibility for that whole mess. If he wants to show that he’s not just pushing an agenda to protect a few companies who don’t want to adapt to a changing marketplace, he should admit that those agreements were a mistake, and promise that future trade agreements will be open and transparent, and won’t include intellectual property provisions.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “New USTR Nominated; Will He Commit To Transparency?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:


For some reason, my gut is telling me that this’ll prolly turn out to be yet another replay of the ol’ meet the new boss/same as the old boss song. We will get “fooled” again, only it isn’t “fooled” that we’ll be getting. (Please feel free to insert a more appropriate word than “fooled” to complete metaphor.)

Anonymous Coward says:

You cannot avoid to at least touch on IP in trade agreements and no “politician” in their right mind would commit to avoiding it.

In terms of transparency, he will probably continue the line of stratified access and proclaim it a transparency success (while at its core it is a huge step towards further corruptability!). A lot of the backdoor dealings are a result of the stratisfied access, so it is fundamentally a demand that the USTR will commit to a flat access scheme instead.

As for his future policy, it is clear that it is very independent of all elected officials. If there is going to be a change, it is going to be very slow and as a result of the internet economy companies or other new businesses more than any freedom of speech concerns!

Anonymous Coward says:

a) you haven’t got a hope in hell of him admitting he was wrong with the previous crap ‘agreements’
b) there is more chance of me being the first man on the Moon than there being ‘transparency’
c) the agreements that are underway atm will continue in the same way, because to change would make Kirk out to be plum he is and the USA to be as bad
d) he’s only in it for the money anyway and doesn’t give a shit about dragging any industries into the digital age, making them adapt or anything else
e) if he can get more of what has previously happened, he will, disregarding any and all consequences. it will make a bigger name for him and we all know how much people like to be remembered, dont we

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...