Article Lead Image

What happens if an American leaks the TPP to WikiLeaks?

WikiLeaks makes the big gamble.


Kevin Collier


Posted on Jun 2, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 4:49 pm CDT

WikiLeaks is crowdsourcing a $100,000 reward to whoever can finish leaking the secretive trade agreement that may soon influence how at least a dozen countries do business across multiple industries.

Called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the deal would standardize trade relations among countries along the Pacific Rim, including the United States. But the TPP has a host of other consequences—like making it easier for corporations to sue smaller countries, or forcing Internet providers to be more responsible for their customers’ Internet behavior.

As is necessarily the case with an international negotiation, the draft text of the TPP is kept from the public, but plenty who have seen, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have warned of its contents, and WikiLeaks has gotten its hand on three of the 29 chapters.

Clearly someone with access to at least some of the TPP is sympathetic, as WikiLeaks has seen not only drafts on the environment, intellectual property, and investment chapters, but also a handful of associated documents, like countries’ positions. And that’s without financial incentive.

But what happens to a person who leaks that information? That’s a tough question to answer. Several lawyers and trade experts who spoke with the Daily Dot were reluctant to speculate, as there are so many moving parts. But at least one thing’s clear—if an American did it, regardless of whether he or she actually worked for the U.S. Trade Representative or not, she’d likely be in serious legal trouble at home.

“We know at least some (but probably all) of it is ‘confidential,’” Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst at the EFF, told the Daily Dot. According to U.S. law, leaking confidential information can be punishable with at least 10 years in prison.

It’s important to note that WikiLeaks doesn’t claim to already have the whole $100,000 at the ready, but is instead holding a fundraiser. As of this writing, it’s a little over a quarter past its goal.

It’s possible that that goal has already been met, too. WikiLeaks announced Tuesday evening, less than a day after calling for the full TPP text, that something big was coming.

Illustration by Max Fleishman

Share this article
*First Published: Jun 2, 2015, 7:09 pm CDT