Wikileaks releases draft of long-secret trade proposal

Consumer watchdog Public Citizen excoriates U.S. positions on Internet, health

wikileaks

Wikileaks this morning has released what they say is a complete draft of the portion of the ultra-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty that covers intellectual property. A consumer watchdog group, Public Citizen, which says it has analyzed the documents, is slamming the Obama Administration for what it calls a complete capitulation to American corporate interests that is being summarily rejected by many of its would-be treaty partners.

From a Public Citizen press release:

Secret documents published today by WikiLeaks and analyzed by Public Citizen reveal that the Obama administration is demanding terms that would limit Internet freedom and access to lifesaving medicines throughout the Asia-Pacific region and bind Americans to the same bad rules, belying the administration's stated commitments to reduce health care costs and advance free expression online, Public Citizen said today.

WikiLeaks published the complete draft of the Intellectual Property chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed international commercial pact between the United States and 11 Asian and Latin American countries. Although talks started in 2008, this is the first access the public and press have had to this text. The text identifies which countries support which terms. The administration has refused to make draft TPP text public, despite announcing intentions to sign the deal by year's end. Signatory nations' laws would be required to conform to TPP terms.

The leak shows the United States seeking to impose the most extreme demands of Big Pharma and Hollywood, Public Citizen said, despite the express and frequently universal opposition of U.S. trade partners. Concerns raised by TPP negotiating partners and many civic groups worldwide regarding TPP undermining access to affordable medicines, the Internet and even textbooks have resulted in a deadlock over the TPP Intellectual Property Chapter, leading to an impasse in the TPP talks, Public Citizen said.

The documents can be read here:

From a Wikileaks press release:

The longest section of the Chapter - 'Enforcement' - is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons. Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards. The TPP IP Chapter states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence. The IP Chapter also replicates many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions from the shelved SOPA and ACTA treaties.

Reactions to come.

(Update: The Sydney Morning Herald had an advance look at the documents and has this quote from an intellectual property expert: "One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish-list for major corporations, and the copyright parts of the text support such a view. Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft and the pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this.")

(Update 2: Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts University, makes an interesting point regarding the role of Wikileaks and the wider Internet community here: "If, by publishing the draft texts, Wikileaks manages to derail the agreement, then that's a data point in favor of the power of networked global civil society.  If, on the other hand, TPP proceeds relatively unscathed, then it suggests that perhaps the power of these non-state actors has been exaggerated, even in a Web 2.0 world.")

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