United States International Privacy Privacy Deficit Free & Open Internet

Australians warn Canadians about 88 million dollar economic fallout from caving into U.S. pressure on digital policy

Trade Ministers set to gather for crucial Singapore TPP talks with U.S. lobbyists aiming to strong-arm Canada into adopting Internet censorship rules that damaged the Australian economy

December 6, 2013– Australian experts are warning Canada about the damaging economic fallout of adopting U.S.-driven Internet censorship rules under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The warning comes as Trade Ministers, including Canada’s Ed Fast, prepare to gather in Singapore for a crucial round of TPP talks this weekend, with U.S. negotiators aiming to strong-arm Canada into adopting extreme rules that would make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed.

Australia was forced to adopt similar rules under the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) with deeply damaging results. Australia’s Productivity Commission estimated that extensions to copyright terms alone cost the Australian economy $88 million in revenue flowing overseas. The U.S. is trying to force the 12 TPP countries to agree to extended copyright terms, along with many other economically damaging Internet censorship measures in the TPP.

“‘A net loss’ is how the Productivity Commission labelled the copyright obligations,” says Trish Hepworth, Executive Director at the Australian Digital Alliance. “The copyright extension alone was estimated to cost up to $88 million per year in revenue flowing overseas.”

Hepworth continued: “Provisions in the TPP have the potential to bring the Internet to a grinding halt, through the extension of reproduction rights into the digital context. Australia is now an unattractive place to locate facilities that deliver, in particular, data analysis and search services over the internet. Telcos and universities are concerned that cloud computing isn’t supported, putting Australia in a technological backwater.”

Hepworth went on to highlight that: “Alarmingly, the TPP proposals being discussed this weekend in Singapore go further than those of AUSTFA. The increasing move towards criminalisation, provisions on ISP liability, formalities and parallel imports could all have long-lasting consequences for Australia and other countries. A secretly negotiated trade deal is not the right place for overly controlling and technical copyright provisions. Australia’s experience under AUSTFA should stand as a warning to other countries considering their position in the TPP.”

Other leading international experts have also warned Canada about the economic dangers of signing up to the TPP. Speaking to an audience in Vancouver recently, Carolina Rossini, Project Director at the New America Foundation, said: “The U.S. government is trying to force Canada into adopting economically damaging Internet censorship rules for the benefit of American media conglomerates. Canada has proven to the world that a balanced copyright law that guarantees Internet freedoms, shaped with society's input, can be achieved. And now the TPP puts that at risk.”

Analysis of leaked TPP texts from Internet law expert Michael Geist along with professor Henry Farrell show that Canada has refused to cave to US pressure up until recently.

The Singapore talks from 7-9 December are the first round to involve trade ministers since bombshell revelations revealed the full extent of U.S. attempts to force other nations to adopt its economically damaging proposals.

“Canadian jobs and prosperity are under threat, and that’s why Canadians deserve a firm public commitment from the government that they will not cave to U.S. demands that could wreck our digital economy,” said Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.ca. “To date, Canada’s government has held firm against U.S. pressure tactics, but with trade ministers gathering in Singapore this weekend the pressure will really be on. From leaked documents we know the Canadian position up to now and we’ll absolutely know if they cave and change their position now.”

Anderson continued: “Over 124,000 people have spoken out against the TPP’s Internet censorship provisions. Our leaders need to assure Canadians that they will not negotiate away free expression online and the future of our digital economy, just to please powerful and unaccountable U.S. interests.”

Steve Anderson confronted Canada’s chief negotiator Kirsten Hillman last year at a TPP meeting in Auckland New Zealand, and she refused to rule out overwriting Canadian laws with US-imposed policies.

Groups from several TPP nations have banded together to call for a Fair Deal in the TPP. Over 124,000 people are now calling on leaders to reject Internet censorship proposals in the TPP, with more signing on every day at https://openmedia.org/censorship

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.

Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia has engaged over half-a-million citizens, and has influenced public policy and federal law.

About the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement:

The TPP is one of the most far-reaching international free trade agreements in history. We know from leaked TPP draft texts that participating nations would be bound to much stricter and more extreme copyright laws than now exist under current national laws. These new rules would criminalize much online activity, invade citizens’ privacy, and significantly impact our ability to share and collaborate online.

Negotiators from 12 of the TPP negotiating nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States—met in Malaysia to discuss these changes without input from the public, creators, or most businesses. The negotiating documents are classified—unless you are one of just 600 industry lobbyists permitted to participate. TPP meetings took place in Malaysia from July 15th to the 24th.

Negotiators have indicated that they are in the “home stretch”, with leaders of the participating countries expecting a resolution sometime in October. However, reports have indicated that the intellectual property provisions have been quite a “challenging” issue for those behind the agreement.

Over 18,000 people have now signed a petition at http://OurFairDeal.org, which demands that negotiators reject copyright proposals that would restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights.



David Christopher
Communications Manager, OpenMedia
[email protected]

More Information

Internet governance expert says U.S. trying to strong-arm Canada into economically-damaging Internet censorship rules in international agreement. Source: OpenMedia.ca

Full text of the TPP’s Internet censorship chapter - source: Wikileaks

Detailed expert analysis of the leaked TPP draft can be found at: http://keionline.org/node/1825

In August 2013, OpenMedia and the Our Fair Deal Coalition launched an alternative process to the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, enabling citizens to have their say on shaping their digital future.

In May 2013, OpenMedia and Coalition partners sent TPP Trade Ministers a letter to demand a ‘Fair Deal’ on provisions that would restrict Internet use in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.

We also sent a message to new U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman by purchasing a hard-hitting Washington D.C. newspaper ad.

In December 2012, OpenMedia’s Steve Anderson took our message direct to TPP negotiators in Auckland. Read his full report from Auckland here.

In June 2012, OpenMedia joined with a diverse coalition of groups to launch the StopTheTrap.net petition - a petition which gained over 135,000 signatures and which was hand-delivered to TPP negotiators in San Diego.

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet. Take action now

View all campaigns
Take action now! Sign up to be in the loop Donate to support our work