Forget about milk and chickens, the TPP could choke the free Internet

Households could lose access to the Web after three accusations of copyright infringement, according to a leaked draft


(Getty Images)

Yesterday, Heritage Minister James Moore announced that Canada has formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a group that is discussing a major trade agreement among us and Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. The deal is at the negotiation stage now, but all countries at the table are expected to sign in late 2013.

Much of the chatter around TPP has focused on the impact it may have on Canada’s protected dairy and poultry industries. Beyond milk and chickens, TPP has other big implications. Among them are potentially disastrous new rules for the enforcement of intellectual property on the Internet.

In February of 2011, a draft of TPP’s chapter on intellectual property was leaked. The document quickly circulated among academics and lawyers working within I.P. and Internet regulation and then spread to digital rights lobby groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the United States and Open Media here in Canada. Here’s what they say TPP could mean:

  • According to the EFF: “Copyright owners can demand your domain, or have your  computer seized if it’s found to be ‘connected’ to infringing activity—whether you actually participated or not. You can even go to jail.” Here’s an infographic they produced on the subject.
  • According to University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist: TPP could mean a “3-strikes” system for copyright enforcement, where three accusations of infringement would result in the termination of a household’s Internet access. It could also result in criminal penalties for non-commercial infringement.
  • According to Open Media: TPP could require your Internet provider to hand over your private data to media companies who would be able to remove your content from the Internet and impose fines for uses they determine to be improper.

All of these scenarios are based on the leaked draft, which may have been changed. But if so, we don’t know how. The one problem with TPP that critics can speak out on with certainty is the secrecy under which it’s being negotiated. Though TPP will almost certainly overrule existing legislation, most legislators, along with most industries and the public at large, have no opportunity to influence it. In the U.S., both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have demanded more transparency from the U.S. Trade Representative on the closed-door TPP talks.

Here in Canada, where over 114,000 Canadians have signed a petition against TPP, the issue has somehow failed to spark a broader political debate. Now that we have official word that our government is pushing forth on it with no recognition of this public concern, perhaps that will change.

Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown



Forget about milk and chickens, the TPP could choke the free Internet

  1. This article exemplifies how it is imperative that any trade deal be vetted by and vote on by the citizens of Canada. There are far too many clauses that will impact far too many people to leave it up to a temporary government of any ideology.

    • Absolutely not.

      • I should point out, now that the site has moved this post around, that I’m replying to the suggestion that we have referendums on FTA clauses….

        Absolutely not.

    • It seems the little people aren’t to be included in the discussion when it comes to free trade – it’s heresy to even ask questions about it.

    • Free trade is always good: I should be able to freely trade with anyone, anywhere, anytime, who is willing to do business with me.

      But these security issues are beyond the scope of merely “trading” and I’d certainly expect that if push ever came to shove, we would end up protected against these types of “security” laws by our own laws.

      And certainly, the secrecy of these trade agreements is alarming, especially since they seem to be including new laws and not just the ability to trade legally with new partners.

      • “Free trade is always good: I should be able to freely trade with anyone, anywhere, anytime, who is willing to do business with me.”

        Simplistic ideology rarely produces good results when put into practice.

        Free trade with developing countries allows multinational corporations to bypass first-world regulations, wages and benefits that create the markets they want access to. This leads to declining living standards destroying the markets in the process. Wage deflation leads to stagnant economic growth and soaring debt. The end result is depression. (Kind of like what we are seeing now…)

        The fact is the economy is as complex as the weather. The reason free-market ideologues keep wreaking economic havoc with their boneheaded schemes is because their Aristotelian economic models are ridiculous.

    • Someone somewhere is benefiting from all these free trade deals. But considering living standards are on the decline, it’s not average Canadians.

      Now these “free trade” deals are imposing laws on Canadians we didn’t vote for. This is an assault on our sovereignty and our democracy.

      Some people claim plutocracy is ideological freedom. But it seldom works out that way in the real world.

      We need less theoretical prosperity and more of the actual kind. First step, toss out 200-year-old economic ideology that is entirely self-serving to corrupt businessmen.

    • To this day we are not fully cognizant of the fine print associated with NAFTA. For example, do people realize that in the event of of an energy crisis, we actually are committed to provide energy (oil, gas, electricity???) to the U.S. What about fresh water? What obligations does Canada have in regards to providing fresh water to the U.S. under NAFTA. This is a little sneaky clause in NAFTA that obliges Canada and its ‘sub-governments’ to never revert back to a government run service once that service has been privatized and offered to private firms. For example, garbage services once privatized, can never be returned to a government run service no matter what problem or costs arise. This would apply to utilities, to education and to health services. We do not know because these things have never been fully divulged to the Canadian public. Yet we have been repeatedly punished for imagined wrongs in regards to several issues, the lumber dispute is a perfect example, have won every trade dispute yet paid extremely heavy fines. No one has ever explained why these things have happened under the Mulroney government, the Chrétien government and now the Harper government.

  2. Sounds like they’ll make the internet like TV, largely boring and redundant (already happening so a large degree) which will have the effect of killing it. Oh, well. There’s always a silver lining.

  3. I’m disturbed that this could even be a first draft.

    So, the TPP can go F*** itself and take Harper with them.

    • Harper is an autocrat and one can see how he would identify with some of these Asian governments. But clearly Canadians are not ready to be joined at the hip to these kind of societies… We have a different democratic tradition.

  4. I was explaining Canada’s agriculture industry to a Japanese fellow, and he wouldn’t believe me. The idea that a government would artificially keep prices for basic food items high seemed incomprehensible to him. Now I have to explain to him that Canadians may end up in jail for downloading something on the net…

    • No need to inform your japanese friend about possible download punishments in Canada, you just need to look at the japanese piracy laws to see something truly terrifying.

  5. Kudos to all of those brain dead sheep for voting in a majority conservative government…did you REALLY expect anything different?

    • Technically 60% of voters were vehemently opposed to Harper getting majority power. When the will of the super-majority is crushed under the tyranny of a minority, that is the literal opposite of democracy. It’s time Canada joined the rest of the developed world by getting a voting system that ensures a majority of voters are represented in government.

      The quickest fix? Instant Runoff Voting. It simply ensures that all MPs *earn* their seats with a majority of the vote. It keeps our existing (Westminster-style) system intact. This minor reform would stop all vote-splitting (which arbitrarily awards power) and can legislated without the need of a referendum.

  6. You think this will be the last the Progressives have in mind for us stupid lowly uneducated dumbass people who follow everything that the do gooders preach to us anti this anti that we are sheep lead to the slaughter remember the mark of the beast 666..?

  7. Free Canada ~ Trade Harper!

  8. “Now that we have official word that our government is pushing forth on
    it with no recognition of this public concern, perhaps that will change.” — or perhaps not. This wouldn’t be the first time that this government has counted on the short attention span of the electorate.

  9. Sounds more and more like Big Brother, giving away even basic rights as a Canadian to impose other laws and practices not of its own country

  10. CETA–Harper wants his autocratic legacy left in trade agreements. Kept in secret for almost 3 yrs, Cons and EU currently are meeting for their so-called final 2 wk stint in Brussels, Belgium to hash out the final 20% negotiations. Canadians need openness and I oppose CETA because it is a faulty trade model, bigger than CETA. Corp.’s in EU will be allowed to bid on public services (municipal, universities, schools, hospitals) provincial down to the municipal level–our MUSH group. Water is not excluded. 80 cities across Canada have opted out/near opted out, 39 in ON. Provincial govts. have bought in to this Harper FREE TRADE. Say NO to CETA: water fully excluded, also, public services like transit and energy. Say NO to investor-starte dispute settlement process. This CETA is the backdoor in for NAFTA partners (many recent lawsuits against ON–Green Energy ACT by US power co., and ACTA is hidden in CETA–look out internet users! Spread the word. We need to ACT NOW. Check out stopceta please. A few Canadians won’t do. Like someone stated: FREE TRADE–TRADE HARPER should be the slogan!

  11. We have never benefited from any of these agreements, only corporate lobbyists see profits and lawyers. Harper get’s some favours from the US in return for enforcing their crony capitalism