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Secretive trade negotiations leave important voices on the sidelines

We've joined a large international coalition calling for trade agreement reform to protect our digital rights

Today, your OpenMedia team joined with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mozilla, and several other organizations from an international coalition of groups representing Internet users, customers, and scholars who are calling for reform of the negotiation of global trade agreements in order to protect Internet and other digital rights for communities around the world.

The “Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet” was signed by 19 groups and individuals concerned about secretive and closed trade negotiations, like the ones that were behind the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), which is now awaiting ratification from 12 countries. The TPP was under development for seven years before the completed text was released for the public to see. However, advisors for industry lobbyists were allowed to view and comment on draft texts. As a result, the TPP includes restrictive copyright enforcement regulations that will hurt free expression, innovation, and privacy on the Internet and elsewhere.

We're grateful to our friends and allies at the EFF for rallying such a diverse range of groups and individuals to endorse the Brussels Declaration. The EFF's Global Policy Analyst Jeremy Malcolm explains why this issue is so important: “We need an international trading system that is fair, sustainable, democratic, and accountable. But you can only achieve that result through public participation. The secrecy we’ve seen in the TPP and similar agreements locks out important views from the global digital rights community and other experts. That’s insight we need to make sure we are protecting rights for everyone around the world.”

The Brussels declaration makes six specific recommendations for countries participating in global trade agreements, including regular releases of draft proposals, ample opportunity for public comment and feedback, and engagement of organizations and experts representing Internet users and consumers.

The Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet stems from a meeting I took part in earlier this year on catalyzing reform of trade negotiation processes. Experts from four continents also participated.

The bottom line is this: Digital policy must be shaped through open and participatory means. If trade agreements are going to impact Internet governance they must ensure effective participation from experts and the public. You can join tens of thousands speaking up against the secretive TPP right now at

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