Leaked TPP IP Chapter Would Lead To Much Greater Online Surveillance… Because Hollywood Still Hates The Internet
from the shameful dept
We already wrote a big piece about the latest leaked copy of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement text. However, there were a few additional areas in the leaked text that deserve further scrutiny, so we’ll be having a few more posts. One significant concern is how the TPP is likely to lead to much greater surveillance by ISPs on your online surfing habits — all in the name of “copyright” of course:
Draft rules under negotiation would impose on Internet service providers a legal obligation to fight against online copyright infringement. This obligation is embodied in several provisions, which would require, for example, ISPs to communicate to their users any supposed infringement committed through their accounts, take down from the Internet information that supposedly infringes on copyright, and collect information that allows identification of users that supposedly have infringed the law.
While the text of the actual agreement sounds like it’s just internationalizing the DMCA (already problematic), it’s actually worse. Subtle language choices make a big, big difference.
First, the TPP includes provisions that would extend spying obligations not only to entities that provide Internet services, but to ?any person,? thus, not only Internet-related companies would be required to enforce the law, but ?any person,? whether human or otherwise. Rights holders would likely interpret this obligation as applying to the manager of a free-wifi zone at Starbucks or your favorite neighborhood cafe, to public libraries and schools, as well as to that neighbor of yours who shares her wifi by keeping it accessible and open.
Second, TPP provisions do not seem to limit this spying to the Internet. Instead they refer to online providers, which may extend the scope of the law to other digital networks, such as intranets and private networks. What does this mean? It means that not only ISPs would be spying on you by collecting user data to protect Hollywood?s copyrights, but also other providers of online services, like the private network you use at your workplace, at your university, or even at your kid?s school, even if those networks do not provide actual access to or from the Internet.
Although the TPP states that Internet service providers would not be required by law to ?monitor? users, it encourages this practice. Therefore, the TPP would leave open the door for private agreements between copyright holders (such as the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America) and Internet companies for enforcing the law against Internet users (for example, see the Center for Copyright Information). This raises concerns about powerful content industry players working together to promote abusive practices to enforce their interests against supposed infringers, since, in order to prevent any liability, online service providers may collaborate with rights holders to enforce copyrights beyond what is required by the law.
It’s that last part that is the most troubling. Over the last few years, after Hollywood lost the SOPA fight and realized that legislation was more difficult, it’s now seeking these so-called “voluntary” agreements — even when they’re really done by the government with the threat of regulations if an agreement isn’t reached. These kinds of campaigns are hardly “voluntary” in reality, and are generally designed to get Hollywood everything it wants without having to through any sort of democratic process. Kind of like trade agreements.
Is it any wonder why the USTR has been so adamant about keeping the details of this agreement a secret?