The TPP and Internet censorship

Trudeau’s first big test as Prime Minister


• Do you squeeze oranges expecting apple juice? Of course not. So Canadians shouldn’t be surprised when an undemocratic process like the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations yields an undemocratic result.

On October 5, just two weeks before the recent federal election, beaming Trade Ministers from the 12 TPP countries gathered in Atlanta to announce they had completed negotiations on the largest and most secretive trade agreement in modern history.

Now, the TPP looks like it’s becoming the first major test for the new Liberal government. Although the previous government signed Canada on to the deal, it must still be approved by the recently elected new Parliament.

Despite the fact that negotiations were ongoing for over three years, most Canadians knew nothing about the agreement and the announcement from Atlanta came as big news. Even those of us that have been following the process closely have little information on the TPP’s contents. Of its 29 chapters, we have only seen three – and only because they were leaked and published by Wikileaks.

So here we are, being told by political leaders that we must be a part of this agreement, as there is “simply too much to gain for Canada.” But if we have so much to gain, why did the previous government wait until the last possible moment to pitch us the plan and then keep it under wraps throughout the recent election?

The few who have read the leaked texts know exactly why: Canadians would never accept the TPP if we knew what was being negotiated on our behalf.

Despite vowing to release the full text before the election, Trade Minister Ed Fast reneged on his promise only days later, leaving Canadians without an opportunity to judge for themselves if the trumped-up benefits of the TPP are truly genuine.

For an example of just how bad the TPP is for Canadians, let’s take a look at the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter. For years, digital rights experts the world over have been calling it “one of the worst global threats to the Internet.”

The previous government assured Canadians the TPP’s changes to copyright law are “fully consistent with Canadian law and policy.” But only days after the announcement by Trade Ministers, the final version of the IP chapter was leaked and it’s even worse than we could have imagined.

We now know Canadians will see copyright terms extended by 20 years, robbing the public domain and snatching what experts estimate will be hundreds of millions of dollars out of our pockets every year.

And that’s not all: vaguely worded clauses will mean increased Internet censorship complete with content takedowns and website blocking. You could even have your computer seized and destroyed just for ripping your favourite CD onto your computer. Under the TPP, will we even really own what we buy?

The trend here is clear: to replace Canada’s balanced copyright rules with a much harsher, US style approach. The fact is that secretive, closed negotiations only benefit those who have a seat at the table. Throughout the negotiations, TPP officials went out of their way to avoid engaging in genuine, citizen stakeholder engagement.

Canadians must demand that our new incoming government reject the TPP’s Internet censorship plan. Frankly, the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

Meghan Sali is Free Expression campaigner with OpenMedia, a community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet.

14 thoughts on “The TPP and Internet censorship”

  1. It’s not reasonable to argue the benefits or problems with the trade deal on the basis of a single issue. You must evaluate the trade deal in total to weigh the benefits and trade offs that have been made. That said, the IP agreement is a big net loss for people in all countries that will sign up for the trade deal. It is a big win for business, particularly American business, as they have big IP issues across multiple industries in Asia. The US government is, for the most part, run by business interests. So the source of the IP agreements is not in question. What is in question for me is what did Canada (not China, Japan etc) get as a benefit for agreeing to the IP terms. Maybe something, maybe nothing but you need to look at the entire agreement to understand. One thing you can be sure of though is that there will be no benefits without trade offs. So Canadians need to fully understand what they get and what they lose and then make their decison as to whether this trade agreement is in our best interest. I remain pessimistic but willing to be convinced I am wrong.

    • There is “compromise” and then there is a list of “Stuff we have wanted for a decade and are forcing you to accept now”

      TPP is an obvious ploy to “Fight China” in world domination.

      Sounds “Tin foil hat.” But they are actually saying that!

      Nafta is what helped China get as big as it is, and now they want to fight what they have made by propping up Vietnam and Malaysia, which are even worse when it comes to human rights violations.

      They think Americans will be in. But in the end China is way to big to stop now.

    • Those that can give up Essential Liberty to obtain a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
      Benjamin Franklin

  2. Quote: “And that’s not all: vaguely worded clauses will mean increased Internet censorship complete with content takedowns and website blocking.”

    Totally unacceptable. Big businesses and lawyers might exploit this in order to cover corruption in business and the legal profession.

  3. The TPP is going to open opportunities for Canadian companies all around the world. So glad the previous government was able to finalize negotiations and make it a reality. Now we just need to hope Justin will get it ratified through Parliament.

    • Bill, thanks for your comments. There is no doubt that the TPP will “open opportunities” …. for some. But, do you really believe it’s all good news for everyone and that there are no big problems with it? There were 250,000 Germans ON THE STREETS protesting the European version of the TPP because they are aware of how much these agreements take decision making power AWAY from all levels of government, and people, and concentrate power and legal rights into the hands of the biggest multi-national corporations. Do you sincerely believe, with the state of the world today, after mountains of revelations about corrupt corruption in collusion with governments, that concentrating power so much into the hands of such corporations is a good thing for you and your heirs? Have you done any homework other than looking at dollars signs ringing…?

  4. I really don’t believe in trudeau more than i can throw a stick. he’s a staunch federalist to boot, his father was involved in the builderberg meetings which doesn’t exactly mean anything but either way i don’t like the feel from this. i really don’t see him as going against the TPP which is kind of what’s left after i boil it all down. i really hope he does what’s right but at the same time we need a bigger revolution

  5. Unfortunately, I think that we will end up signing on to the TPP, and although the economic benefits might be tangible, the fact that they have been tied to draconian Intellectual Property legislation that Canadians have not had a chance to express their opinions on, is going to come as a real shock to most of us. Unfortunately, its very hard to explain the ramifications of things like this to people who barely understand the computers they use or what their current rights are or are not. When the first people start receiving lawsuits over IP violations that some company has deemed them to have committed and face either a hefty legal bill, or a chance to settle out of court for a less hefty but still substantial fine, they are going to be unpleasantly surprised.

    The terms of the TPP were largely written by corporate lobbyists by all reports, so it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that they inherently favour the rights of the corporations over the rights of the citizenry.

    • Please have your say. Write, email, call you MP, Prime Minister and let them know if you don’t want this TPP approved. We need to stand together to let them know how we feel about this.

Leave a comment