I’ve been wanting to write about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement for forever now, but it’s so hard to pin down exactly what the fuck it is that I’ve been treading water just waiting for the fragmented information to soak in and start to make some sort of sense.
Because the TPP is such a secretive document it’s hard to find all the awful things it threatens to bring in one place. So here’s my attempt to be something of a one-stop-shop for what you should know.
What is the TPP:
- It’s a super-secret trade agreement that’s been set up by the 12 different countries around the Pacific that account for about 40 per cent of the world’s wealth.
- It aims to lower tariffs on goods and services ranging from agriculture products to automobiles to sea food and beef, thus lowering the prices for consumers.
- One of the other ways it’s hoping to slash prices is by making it easier for businesses to outsource labour while lowering the standards of pay and job security.
- It will make it easier for corporations to sue and take action against government decisions. Think Tobacco companies suing Australia for educating smokers on the harms of cigarettes.
- According to Doctors Without Borders
On November 13, WikiLeaks released the draft Intellectual Property Chapter of the TPP. Since negotiations began in 2010, they have been shrouded in secrecy. This is the first leak of text from the proposed agreement in more than two years.
The leak of the secret text confirms that the U.S. government is continuing to steamroll its trading partners in the face of steadfast opposition over terms that will severely restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of people. The U.S. is refusing to back down from dangerous provisions that will impede timely access to affordable medicines
- This will affect Canadians trying to get a hold of cheaper generic drugs and may put people at risk of having to go without medicine that they really need.
- The Council of Canadians summarizes the TPP’s threat to global environmentalism in some pretty concise and terrifying terms
Environmental protection measures: The TPP will include an environment chapter that U.S. negotiators would like to be enforceable. But the 11 other TPP countries, including Canada, object to the idea that protecting the environment is as important as protecting corporations from government regulation. The reality is the TPP cannot and does not pretend to help reduce emissions or protect the Earth. It will, however, put a screen on all environmental policies to make sure they do not hurt trade and investment. The only winner from this situation is climate change.
- Julian Assange the founder of WikiLeaks has been outspoken about the effects of the TPP on online security.
- For a written bullet-point with the full details of the dangers TPP presents online check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s website, but I’ll try and break it down to some more digestible bites here:
- TPP wants to make it easier for big corporations to come after public individuals over copy right infringement and make current intellectual property laws more strict.
- it wants to extend copyright protection on corporate-owned works (think Mickey Mouse) up to 70+ years after the death of the creator. Good bye project Gutenberg and funny Robot-Chicken style parodies of pop culture. Especially because they are also trying to limit and further restrict the concept of Fair Use, meaning companies couldn’t make things available to the public even if they wanted to because their industry investors would be able to decide to file a lawsuit against them if they thought the company was being too liberal with its distribution of information.
- even if you aren’t directly infringing on their crazy copyright laws, the TPP wants to make sure you’re not getting too computer savvy either. They want to make it a separate offense to be caught bypassing digital locks (also known as technological protection measures – TPMs) no more bootleg streaming Game of Thrones, and expect to be locked out of more youtube videos saying “content not available in your country”
- and all of those problems are compounded by the fact the TPP wants to adopt some pretty heavy criminal sanctions for things as basic as file sharing.
- most terrifying might just be the section on journalists and whitsleblowers:
Dangerously vague text on the misuse of trade secrets, which could be used to enact harsh criminal punishments against anyone who reveals or even accesses information through a “computer system” that is allegedly confidential.
Please, please, PLEASE if you read all the way to the bottom of this and are worried about the future of the Canadian/world economy, the safety of the internet, the environment, access to medicine and/or the well being of workers around the world sign any of these petitions to stop the TPP from taking root in Canada.