Internet Censorship? The Trans-Pacific Partnership and You.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) . . . truth is, most Americans don’t know a thing about it. For most of us – “us” being anyone who actively uses the Internet – our ignorance potentially could be a dangerous thing.
A little background: The original Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (2005) was conceived as a free trade agreement. Its intent: Liberalization of Asian-Pacific (Pacific Rim) economies – to bring them into the 21st Century as healthy, proactive forces and to enhance their economic ties with consumer nations.
The hoped-for result? Raise the bar of product quality, promote trade, and reduce tariff.
The high-minded aim? Improve quality-of-life conditions for many. Turn derogatory catchphrases such as “Made in China” and “Made in the Philippines” into expressions of pride.
TPP’s original membership was Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Fast-forward to 2013. Eight more countries – Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam – have been included in the TPP membership. Outside, the waiting line of countries actively interested in joining the club is long: China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand. In addition, other countries have sent queries
But an agreement which began with good intent – to modernize and improve tangled economies and elevate the quality of life – has, many say, turned into something ugly.
To stretch an analogy, like the NCAA – which parades its “student athlete” position while raking in millions/year – the TPP still wears its elevated 2005 treaty language while a lot of money (in this case, billions) is changing hands privately.
International critics, including economists and political scientists, have denounced the TPP. It is alleged TPP has been corrupted and has gone way beyond tariff reduction and trade promotion, and has created a global corporate power-grab. It has granted unprecedented power to private corporations and has infringed upon consumer, labor, and environmental rights and interests. And it is doing this in complete secrecy, “without a shred of transparency.”
As noted economist Laurel Sutherlin wrote: “Only a few chapters [of the agreement] have to do directly with trade. [Instead, most] chapters enshrine new rights and privileges for major corporations while weakening the power of nation states to oppose them.” In short, the TPP has become “a wish list of the 1%.”
What does that have to do with us, safe here is the U.S.? A lot more than you might think. This is more than “What’s going on over there is not happening here.”
The TTP is proposing Internet censorship – and this truly could be global in impact. Exposure by WikiLeaks – of a secretly-negotiated, members-only draft treaty – is bringing disturbing facts to the public surface:
– The TTP internet censorship plan has been developed by American lobbyists in total secrecy.
– The proposed plan would give conglomerates the power to kick anyone off the Internet if he or she accused of downloading the wrong content.
– A suggestion is also in place, to monitor the online content an individual is viewing.
– Only the lobbyists, representing large U.S. corporations – such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto, and Wal-Mart – have access to the full treaty.
– Members of Congress are allowed to view only selected sections.
– The plan would be first implemented in Canada, where it would replace existing Canadian Internet law.
– By securing a foothold in Canada, the plan-turned-to-law would then “go global.”
The Blanch Law Firm is extremely concerned about this. If such guidelines are put in place, individual freedom is at risk. The potential TPP treaty – and the flexed corporate muscle behind it – could trample individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over intellectual and creative processes.
What does that mean for you? Think about it: If you go online . . . if you read, write, publish, think, listen, play, or invent . . . the “big brother” of TPP could be watching. And when it likes, it could pull the plug on you.
– Stephen Heath-Jones