To Counter Secret Negotiations Over TPP, Coalition Sets Up Open Alternative

from the what-our-governments-should-be-doing dept

By this point, we’ve covered the absurd secrecy around trade agreements like the TPP many times over. TPP, TAFTA and other such trade agreements are being negotiated entirely in secret, with no chance for public feedback or discussion, but with plenty of access for special interests who are driving the key aspects of the negotiation. While various government officials — mainly the USTR in the US — have claimed that (1) negotiations are transparent because anyone can go talk to them and (2) that the actual text needs to be secret or no deal can get done, neither point is even remotely accurate. Transparency is not about listening, but sharing openly. They can listen all they want, but that’s not transparency when what’s actually being debated and agreed on is still secret. Furthermore, plenty of other agreements, such as those at WIPO, are negotiated much more publicly with drafts being released and debated in public. There is no reason that cannot be done with TPP or TAFTA.

In response to this unnecessary and dangerous secrecy, a bunch of organizations have set up the “Fair Deal Coalition,” and set up a website that basically does what the TPP and TAFTA negotiators should have been doing all along: creating an open platform, letting any stakeholder discuss the kind of things that should go into such an agreement. The specific tool is called Your Digital Future, and it focuses specifically on the copyright issue. The Coalition then plans to take the feedback generated via this process and deliver it to TPP negotiators.

Yes, those negotiators will likely pay little attention to it, but the real point is that this is what negotiators should have been doing from the start. You don’t set up a small group of “industry advisory committees” that are heavily biased towards legacy industries (and, by the way, then block competent experts from more disruptive areas who apply to join those committees, as we’ve been hearing has been happening lately) and then don’t let everyone else weigh in. Yes, the USTR says it will “listen” to anyone — but how many people are willing to go to find a USTR official to talk to them?

Open the process up. Share what you’re proposing in our name, and then let people discuss the proposals honestly. Without that, something like this alternative process is a weak stand-in for what a truly representative government should be doing.

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Comments on “To Counter Secret Negotiations Over TPP, Coalition Sets Up Open Alternative”

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Anonymous Coward says:

All the public wants is a copy of the rules and regulations (laws) currently being drafted, so we can debate them.

If I had to describe the secret proceedings currently surround the Free Exploitation Agreement process, I would say…

“This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.”

out_of_the_blue says:

Mike, there's a purpose to the secrecy!

Rep Alan Grayson believes (as I do):
“2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.”

And that’s where your constant railing at “secrecy” in and of itself just doesn’t work for your apparent purpose. Gotta state some concretes to have a discussion even here, Mike, not just natter on in general about process.

[There. I’ve stated substance and agreement with Mike while still getting in a good dig.]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mike, there's a purpose to the secrecy!

and your article didn’t state anything that Mike has not stated on this site multiple times in the past. You would know that if you actually read the articles, rather than just the heading.

You are a TROLL. You have no purpose other than to obsessively follow Mike. You do know there is a word for that, and it has criminal implications. STALKER

Rekrul says:

While various government officials — mainly the USTR in the US — have claimed that (1) negotiations are transparent because anyone can go talk to them and (2) that the actual text needs to be secret or no deal can get done…

What they actually mean is that the text needs to be secret or no deal can get done that will please their corporate masters.

Anonymous Coward says:

these ‘secret negotiations’ are secret not just to allow the various legacy industries, mainly Hollywood and the US entertainment industries, have their way etched as much as possible in stone, but, after all the spying revelations, i wouldn’t mind betting the US security agencies are well up the list of being able to track what every person, everywhere, is doing!

Mike-2 Alpha (profile) says:

Houses of Cards Deserve to Fall

I can only hope that it’s not just people who hang out at websites like this who are coming to the obvious conclusion. That the public in general are starting to realize why the government hides the details of court rulings or treaty negotiations from them. That it’s because they’re afraid of the storm of outrage that would erupt if their specifics were known. That the simple fact that they’re hiding it from us is reason enough to become furious.

I look around me and I see people losing their minds over this kind of thing. I can only hope we’re not alone.

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