SOPA Should Have Ended Backroom Deals About Copyrights & Patents; So Why Is TPP Still Secret?

from the bring-it-in-the-open dept

There’s a fantastic op ed in the NY Times, by Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy from Public Citizen, questioning why the TPP negotiating texts are still secret. As they note, this level of secrecy is unprecedented:

Even the George W. Bush administration, hardly a paragon of transparency, published online the draft text of the last similarly sweeping agreement, called the Free Trade Area of the Americas, in 2001.

But, of course, we all know the answer as to why. As they note, for all this secrecy, the administration has given tremendous access to “600 trade advisers” — basically employees from big companies who get privileged access to the draft text and to negotiators that even Congress is denied. And it’s pretty damn clear that the administration just doesn’t want Congress to have much say in this, because Congress might actually do its job and represent the public’s interest. In fact, the op-ed notes, former USTR Ron Kirk was pretty explicit about this:

So why keep it a secret? Because Mr. Obama wants the agreement to be given fast-track treatment on Capitol Hill. Under this extraordinary and rarely used procedure, he could sign the agreement before Congress voted on it. And Congress’s post-facto vote would be under rules limiting debate, banning all amendments and forcing a quick vote.

Ron Kirk, until recently Mr. Obama’s top trade official, was remarkably candid about why he opposed making the text public: doing so, he suggested to Reuters, would raise such opposition that it could make the deal impossible to sign.

But, you would think that the administration had learned something from the SOPA fight (and the ACTA fight in Europe) — and it’s that the public is not a fan of deals regarding copyright and patents that are negotiated by big business representatives in back rooms. Administration officials who think that TPP is different than SOPA because it let a few tech companies into the back room may find themselves mistaken.

Remember the debate in January 2012 over the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have imposed harsh penalties for even the most minor and inadvertent infraction of a company’s copyright? The ensuing uproar derailed the proposal. But now, the very corporations behind SOPA are at it again, hoping to reincarnate its terms within the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s sweeping proposed copyright provisions.

From another leak, we know the pact would also take aim at policies to control the cost of medicine. Pharmaceutical companies, which are among those enjoying access to negotiators as “advisers,” have long lobbied against government efforts to keep the cost of medicines down. Under the agreement, these companies could challenge such measures by claiming that they undermined their new rights granted by the deal.

If the administration is betting that as long as they keep big business happy, that the public protests won’t matter, they may be in for a surprise.

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 “SOPA Should Have Ended Backroom Deals About Copyrights & Patents; So Why Is TPP Still Secret?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
22 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Actually, it’s the opposite. SOPA was the moment of “And we would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you pesky kids, and that mangy mutt, too!”

No, to preempt the usual idiots who hate due process, this isn’t in defence of SOPA, because the unremovable-block-on-accusation that SOPA touted defeats the whole purpose of ending backroom deals.

Anonymous Coward says:

while this treaty text is ketp secret there is hardly anything to hit at, Im sure speculation is close to the truth, why else would the secrecy remain. And no leaks have come from the corporate advisers, so there must be perceived great profits to stay with the treaty process.
The key to the secrecy provisions must be on the american side, No other party has the economic clout of the US, even with its lingering economic woes, to compel secrecy from the other parties to the negotiation.

PaulT (profile) says:

The simple answer? They didn’t get the real message. All you have to do is look at the arguments of the industry shills here to see how the message was skewed, and how the issue is probably being presented to the politicians.:

“It wasn’t a grassroots reaction, it was all paid for by Google”

“Only the pirates were complaining”

“People just didn’t understand the bill because parts were leaked before they were corrected”

…and so on.

They simply don’t understand that the major problems were the secrecy and lack of public input. Their lobbyists, of course, understand that without secrecy there’s no way to have a chance of pushing through the crap they want that would fail to protect their industry while damaging every other, but since that’s what they’re paid to push they’re not going to let on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I do not believe the “they don’t understand”-argument. In lobbyism it is all about dismissing any facts flying in the face of your eternal truth.

In this case, diverting the blame from grassroots to Google is a way to dispell the shock of the politicians about some voters they didn’t understand. By saying Google is secretly inciting a revolt they are both smearing Google and making it impossible to proove that they are straight up lying.

Blaming pirates is a way to indirectly say that it was only a flashmob created by a lawbreaking minority. Again, to calm politicians. This one can be attacked by looking at numbers.

Blaming misunderstanding is the only piece that can actually backfire on its own. It is a way to legitimize the pirates claim. Since several legal experts were clear in their spit about SOPA, it is an incredible statement. The only way this lie holds is because lobbyists can crowd out independent professional opinions any day of the week.

Demagoguery is the name of the game. Lobbying is dirty.

Nima says:

“Ron Kirk, until recently Mr. Obama?s top trade official, was remarkably candid about why he opposed making the text public: doing so, he suggested to Reuters, would raise such opposition that it could make the deal impossible to sign.”

I…there is almost a zen like level of wrong right here. Basically what he seems to be saying that he doesn’t want to reveal the TPP because they don’t want the democratic process to occur.

Anonymous Coward says:

“But, you would think that the administration had learned something from the SOPA fight (and the ACTA fight in Europe) — and it’s that the public is not a fan of deals regarding copyright and patents that are negotiated by big business representatives in back rooms.”

They learned something – that in order to pass these “agreements” that only benefits the crony capitalists writing them, the actual text must be kept even more secret. The people that are to be fleeced might otherwise become very angry at the prospect of having another chunk of their paycheck transferred to corrupt plutocrats.

Anonymous Coward says:

stupid question, really. the answer is that the USA are involved and it doesn’t want the rest of the world to know how it is stitching everywhere else up until it is too late. throwing ‘encouragements’ to certain people to aid in the secrecy needs to be exposed and those people giving and receiving need to be publicly known and taken to court! no ‘deal’ that the US is involved in will be of any benefit to anywhere except the US!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The answer is that the USA are involved and it doesn’t want the rest of the world to know how it is stitching everywhere else up until it is too late.

I think they’re less concerned about the rest of the world knowing than they are about the American people knowing.

“The major function of secrecy in Washington is to keep the U.S. people … from knowing what the nation?s leaders are doing.” — John Stockwell

MikeC (profile) says:

If you've got nothing to hide....

Isn’t that what Gov & NSA & POTUS saying — they tell us the surveillance is only a problem if you are a terrorist, if you are doing something wrong. So by the same analogy, secrecy in the negotiations – well they must be doing something they are sure we wouldn’t like right? We are back to the american “Just-Us” system of laws and rule. Only for just-us with influence and gov connections right?

Used to always tell my new parents in scouts — we behave in a manner that if it was filmed and on the 11 o’clock news – we wouldn’t be worried if everyone saw it. Simple as that. No complicated rules.

Mike C

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

95% of the population do not matter and therefore do not have a say in what happens to them, this hardly new.

What is new is that there is now a readily accessible medium for discussion of same thus creating a lot of more informed within the 95% and the 5% do not like that and they see it as a threat.

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...
Loading...