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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Nobody cares at all

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    BET EVERY CENT AGAINST, Mike. He's from Citigroup,

    and therefore a rabid corporatist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Chris Brand, May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    So where's Ron Kirk going ?

    It'll be interesting to see where he ends up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Wally (profile), May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    Short/Long

    "New USTR Nominated; Will He Commit To Transparency?"

    Short Answer: Nope...he was a supporter of ACTA
    Short Short Answer: No

    Long answer: Refer to the article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Re: So where's Ron Kirk going ?

    He went to a law firm back in Dallas (but with DC offices) where he will "advise" companies on "international commerce." For what it's worth, he's forbidden from lobbying the USTR for some time...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    PRMan, May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:52pm

    Re: BET EVERY CENT AGAINST, Mike. He's from Citigroup,

    He's from Citigroup,

    and therefore evil.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    ScytheNoire, May 3rd, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    Magic 8-Ball says... Wait, it's just laughing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Not That Chris (profile), May 3rd, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    Right once again...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2013 @ 6:12pm

    Who?

    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.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2013 @ 2:55am

    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!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2013 @ 3:09am

    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

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 6th, 2013 @ 4:39am

    Meet the new boss, worse than the old one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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