The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is by far one of the more dangerous treaties being tossed around world governments because we know nothing about it. Despite a minor leak of an old version last year, we’re still none the wiser as to what’s actually going on. The only people who know about the details of the treaty are the President, the United States Trade Representative, and the MPAA. Wait, what?
Sen. Ron Wyden, friend of the Internet, has been against every major treaty and piece of legislation that would harm the Internet. He was one of the co-creators of the OPEN Act, the far more tolerable alternative to SOPA. His latest target is TPP and he wants to know what’s going on.
TechDirt is reporting that Sen. Wyden’s staff attempted to obtain details of the what the USTR is proposing in TPP. His staff has all the clearance they need that is legally required to obtain the treaty, but the USTR isn’t handing it over. Sen. Wyden says that it’s been more than two months now since he has requested the details as TechDirt put it, “the USTR gave him the finger.”
Congress not being made privy to details on an important trade agreement is one thing, but the USTR is proving itself to be a friend of corporations instead of the American people and our government. Sen. Wyden has found that the USTR is providing intimate details on TPP to major U.S. corporations like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast and the MPAA.
It’s not so surprising when you consider that the MPAA was intimately involved with TPP discussions at a secret meeting in February. Those attending the meeting were even given a private tour of Hollywood studios after the meeting was over. It’s pretty obvious that the USTR is playing favorites and Sen. Wyden is having none of it.
To combat this, he is introducing the Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act. He says that it’s a clarification of the 2002 law, the Congressional Oversight Group. The idea was to increase transparency between the USTR and Congress, but it has obviously done little in that regard. The new law would make it so that the USTR would have to afford same level of clearance to Congress that it is obviously giving corporations.
While all of this is obviously bad and we wish Sen. Wyden all the luck in getting more transparency in government, TPP might not be the big, bad treaty it once was. Reports surfaced earlier this month that suggested the treaty was on the ropes due to the smaller countries realizing how harmful it is to their own economies. When a treaty tells countries that IP protection is more important than stabilizing their own developing economy, those countries are going to realize sooner or later that such a treaty is absolutely asinine and self-serving.
We’ll keep you updated on further efforts to increase TPP transparency and any other developments on this secret treaty. Considering that news has been slow to surface so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t hear anything else on TPP until way later this year. Here’s hoping that’s not the case.
To read the full statement from Sen. Wyden, check out the copy that TechDirt has graciously provided. It lays out exactly what the new law intends to enable while laying the smack down on the Obama Administration for keeping the American public in the dark in regards to TPP.