Occupy protesters rally against Trans-Pacific Partnership

Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned that the TPP could include "provisions that will harm online expression, privacy and innovation on the Internet.”


Kevin Collier


Published May 16, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 5:04 pm CDT

Internet activists in Texas are already physically protesting the latest government move that might hamper Internet users’ rights—even if they’re not exactly sure what it is yet.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed by four countries in 2005. The U.S. is currently one of six countries negotiating to join an updated version of the TPP. Trouble is, the negotiations are taking place behind closed doors in a Dallas hotel—and that secrecy is much of the problem.

A TPP document leaked in Feb. 2011 indicates that, similar to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the TPP would include provisions about intellectual property online. And that’s where it gets tricky.

Intellectual property is, of course, notoriously difficult to regulate on the Internet, and attempts to do so are often seen by Internet activists as overstepping boundaries.

Many fear that ACTA, and TPP by association, would allow Internet service providers to invasively scan people’s Internet usage to ensure they aren’t violating copyright law.

In response to the leaked TPP draft, Electronic Frontier Foundation grew concerned. In a statement, the digital rights advocacy group said:

“Based on the one-sided nature of the groups directly involved, and the content of what has already leaked, we should all be concerned about the prospect of the TPP including provisions that will harm online expression, privacy and innovation on the Internet.”

That people are physically protesting the TPP stands in stark contrast to the events of Oct. 2011, when the U.S. quietly signed ACTA. Since it’s a trade agreement, the U.S.’s decision didn’t need to pass through Congress, which may mean the signing was unconstitutional.

But that was before American Internet activists realized their power in Jan. 2012—when Web-wide protests helped stop Congress from passing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).

On Saturday, upon learning that the TPP was being negotiated in a Dallas hotel, a number of Internet activists—many of whom are reportedly members of Occupy Austin, Bexar, and Dallas—rallied nearby.

Though new details about TPP are still emerging, the EFF has already established a guide for Americans who want to call their representatives in Congress to help bring the agreement to light.

Photo via @RigoHC

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*First Published: May 16, 2012, 11:35 am CDT