TPP deal signed in New Zealand, a threat to Internet Freedom

The TPP deal is coming and things won’t be easy on the Internet

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was signed by New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay recently in Auckland, putting the TPP a step closer to becoming a reality. The deal has been signed by ministers of all 12 member countries and will now need to be ratified by each member country’s lawmakers, BBC reports.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is one of the biggest deals to have been to have been proposed in the past few years. It is a deal between 12 countries of the world, namely USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Brunei, and Peru, which account for 40% of the world’s economy. The deal is an initiative between the member nations to facilitate free trade among them, becoming a bigger version of the EU single market.

Image Source: Redice Creations

TPP aims to relax and remove trade tariffs, paving the way for better and freer trade between the member nations. However, the deal has come to face much criticism, mainly from the US and New Zealand citizens.

While the TPP is hailed by the governments as a deal to protect their native businesses and workers, the citizens say otherwise. They are of the viewpoint that the deal will only benefit big corporations and result in further reduction in job opportunities for the natives. The fact that the deal has been drafted in secrecy over the past 5 years, with tech officials, journalists, and other activists kept in the dark about it, only gives more cause for concern.

The deal, having been signed by the last remaining member without the signature, New Zealand, has been widely criticised by protestors in New Zealand, with protestors blocking roads. However, the lack of job opportunities should not be the biggest concern, for free internet would become a distant memory should this deal become a reality.

Downloading movies, music can hand you the status of a criminal under TPP

The TPP document recently made public (Wikileaks PDF), includes many provisions for governments and ISPs to censor the content on the internet. It is almost like a bid to resurrect the failed SOPA act in the USA that was stopped due to public criticism. The deal would make it almost impossible to do trivial stuff on the internet, like put together a few clips to make your own mash-up on YouTube with your choice of music in the background. You could be sued and charged hefty amounts as a penalty should the creators of the included music or videos feel like suing you.

The deal would prevent investigative journalism within these member countries to be almost completely censored, for it forbids the use of a computer network to access or expose corporate secrets. Website owners would have to publish full details of their members, making them quite susceptible to identity theft and other malicious practices. ISPs would be required to constantly censor content that does not sit well with a copyright owner.

The content could be taken down simply at the request of the copyright owner without even requiring a court order. Copyrights, too, would be valid 70 years after the death of the creator, meaning the government can stop people from accessing or sharing content on the internet for such long periods of time. ISPs would be provided legal immunity in case they take down something they were not supposed to. It will basically make the internet a no-holds-barred place for the ISPs and governments to regulate what the public can see and do on the internet.

With the details made public only recently, after five years of plotting in secrecy, people are appalled at the lengths the member countries are willing to go to do what they wish. 

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