The TPP attacks the environment, whistleblowers and the Internet

06 November 2015 1:21 pm

So the ministers negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership, all done behind closed doors without any public input, finally released the full text of the agreement.

Take a close look and see what’s missing, and what it allows businesses to get away with.

Nowhere for example does it talk about what’s likely to be the big issue confronting every country in the world, climate change. It doesn't even mention the term.

The summary of the environmental section by the US government talks about an energy revolution and asks companies to volunteer to protect the environment.

How weak is that?

The TPP doesn’t consider climate change an important issue but says world is undergoing an “energy revolution”. Too bad we won’t be around the enjoy it.

Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law at the Queensland University of Technology, told Fairfax Media that US trade officials have been "green-washing" the agreement.

“The agreement has poor coverage of environmental issues, and weak enforcement mechanisms. There is only limited coverage of biodiversity, conservation, marine capture fisheries, and trade in environmental services. The final text of the chapter does not even mention 'climate change' – the most pressing global environmental issue in the world," Rimmer says.

The big issue, as the Public Citizen website points out, is that the TPP imposes US. copyright laws on the other 11 countries involved in the deal, including Japan, Canada, Australia and Chile, protecting trademarks, which are often difficult to control across international borders.

It will force Internet Service Providers to give up identification details of alleged copyright infringers. In other words, the TPP turns ISPs into "copyright cops" to assist in the enforcement of copyright takedown requests. At the same time, it does not require countries to have a system for counter-notices, In other words, a U.S company could order a website to be taken down in another country, and there would be no way for the person running that website to refute their claims. Bad luck if it’s a political criticism website using copyrighted content in a manner consistent with fair use.

Section 18.78 criminalizes the "unauthorized and wilful disclosure of a trade secret including via a computer system." The aim here is to stifle whistleblowers and journalism covering the documents they expose -- it could criminalize, for example, The Guardian's reporting on the documents they received from Edward Snowden.

And corporations will be allowed to sue governments if their rules get in the way of profits.

This is what happens when trade deals are negotiated in secret. It’s about corporate power attacking sovereignty of nations and the public’s rights. The TPP still needs the assent of parliaments around the world. It’s time to put politicians under pressure to do their job and represent the people who elect them, and say no.