Momentum shifts in push towards Internet freedom: update

Get ready to raise some ruckus: the next round of TPP negotiations is only a week away. From Thursday, September 6th to Saturday the 15th, in Leesburg, Virginia, U.S.A, negotiators will reconvene behind closed doors and make decisions about the future of Internet freedom worldwide. We at OpenMedia and the Coalition are planning our next moves—we can’t wait to share them with you—but while we plug away, here’s a quick update on where the fight against the secretive and restrictive TPP agreement is today:

Canada and Mexico still in the dark

As a Canadian, the most accurate term I can use to describe my feelings about this is ‘ugh’. Canada and Mexico, the countries that have most recently signed onto the TPP, are being left out of the next negotiating round, with some indication that they’ll be included after December.

The TPP negotiations have been ongoing since 2008—the next round will be the 13th—and sources suggest that Canada and Mexico will be signing on to already-agreed sections of the TPP, without seeing the text in advance.

To say the very least, that is problematic. These are two democratic countries that are entering into an opaque agreement, which will have a huge effect on their citizens, without so much as some ability to shape it. It’s undemocratic and it’s unacceptable.

To make matters worse, both countries are taking on“second-tier” negotiator status, meaning that even when they are allowed into the talks, they won’t have much pull.

Say it with me: Ugh.

Let’s get political: Three nations’ Green Parties speak out

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Australian Greens, and the Green Party of Canada released a joint statement last week, expressing “serious concern at the fundamentally undemocratic and non-transparent nature of the agreement.”

These parties got together across national boundaries to put their stance forward—something that you just don’t see every day.

The Coalition is post-partisan as is OpenMedia, but we are really excited to see that political parties are beginning to hear citzen outcry against the TPP's Internet trap. It shows our voices are being heard, and it means that there’s movement politically. The Greens can have an effect in government. They bring us closer to the parties in power. They add pressure, and get our national leaders thinking about the citizen outcry. And as more parties come on side, the pressure builds further.

We’re glad to have the Greens in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada on board joining Canada’s official opposition party the NDP, over 130 members of Congress in the U.S., and others. We’re excited to cheer on the next parties that take a stand.

“Japan doesn’t need the TPP!”

Japanese citizens have been crystal clear: they do not want their country to sign on to the TPP.

Nearly one year ago, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced plans to pursue participation in TPP negotiations. Though Japan has yet to sign on, on Thursday last week, Mr. Noda and trade minister Yukio Edano planned to discuss the TPP with the influential U.S. Senator Max Baucus.

But days before the meeting, a peaceful yet passionate anti-TPP protest took place in front of Mr. Noda’s office. Demonstrators made it very clear that there will be public backlash—the kind that could cost an election—if Japan signs on.

According to organizers, the protests are expected to continue on a weekly basis “until Mr. Noda gives up the idea of joining the TPP.”

USTR asking for input from industry groups, but not citizens

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) officials—those, on behalf of Big Media lobbyists, are pushing the TPP’s Internet trap the hardest—are reaching out to industry groups that would be affected by the TPP’s most contentions terms (the intellectual property chapter, for example) and asking them to be *ahem* “more flexible and realistic” as the talks advance.

This ..interesting... approach aside, it would be nice if the USTR were reaching out not only to industry lobbyists who are surely looking to protect their outdated business models, but also to citizens. Aren’t citizens the ultimate stakeholders in a democracy? We have a tremendous stake in this agreement that could shape the future of Internet and our democracy.

As we’ve written in the past, the USTR is beginning to take notice of our voices: they’ve been handed a thousand-page printed version of our petition, and some of their latest communications show that they are at least trying to appear to back down. Some influential officials are also now even vocallying casting doubt on agreement coming to fruition at all.

Your voices are growing louder, and we have momentum. Keep spreading the word about the petition, stay engaged, and keep your eyes peeled for more updates. And, as always, please let us know in comments below, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ if you have input.

Finally, if you have any doubt as to the severity of the TPP’s proposed Internet trap or need a refresher, check out the EFF’s recent post: “TPP Creates Legal Incentives For ISPs To Police The Internet. What Is At Risk? Your Rights.

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