TPP: How can the New York Times endorse an agreement the public can’t read?


The New York Times’ editorial board has made a disappointing endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even as the actual text of the agreement remains secret. That raises two distressing possibilities: either in an act of extraordinary subservience, the Times has endorsed an agreement that neither the public nor its editors have the ability to read. Or, in an act of extraordinary cowardice, it has obtained a copy of the secret text and hasn’t yet fulfilled its duty to the public interest to publish it.

Without a publicly available agreement, readers are forced into the uncomfortable position of taking official government statements at face value. That’s reflected in the endorsement, which fails to note the myriad ways in which TPP has been negotiated undemocratically, shutting out public oversight while permitting corporate interests to drive the agenda. Given these glaring issues, it is disconcerting that the Times would take such a supportive stance on an agreement that is likely to threaten innovation and users’ digital rights well into the 21st century.

That situation leaves unanswered questions. Does the editorial board, for example, support the TPP provisions that would give private corporations new tools to undermine national sovereignty and democratic processes? Because “investor-state dispute settlement,” slated for inclusion in both the TPP and the EU-US trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), would give multinational companies the power to sue countries over laws that might cut into expected future profits. This could allow corporations to unravel any policy designed to protect users against violations of their right to privacy or free speech online. The paper’s endorsement notes that copyright enforcement could be expanded to suit legacy media companies, but provides no explanation of why a trade agreement is an acceptable venue for deciding such issues.

Does the New York Times also endorse an initiative to scrap democratic oversight of TPP by elected lawmakers? After all, Senate Finance committee leaders, Sen. Max Baucus and Sen. Orrin Hatch have renewed their call to pass fast-track, which would hand over Congress’ constitutional mandate over US trade policy to the Obama administration. Fast-track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, would restrict lawmakers from having any proper hearings on its provisions, limiting them to an up-or-down vote on the entire 29 chapter treaty.

The paper’s statement emphasizes how the Obama administration strives to make TPP’s policies “an example for the rest of the world to follow.” But if that’s the case, then it’s all the more important that the agreement be published immediately. Such a significant body of international law regulating digital policy must not be negotiated without proper, informed public debate. The secrecy of the process itself ensures that only some private interests will be represented at the expense of others. In addition, the U.S. Trade Representative’s history of pushing forth extreme copyright enforcement policies through other trade agreements gives little assurance that users’ rights will be considered in the TPP.

Trade representatives are working to finalize TPP negotiations by the end of the year. Negotiators are scheduled to meet in Salt Lake City next week to negotiate outstanding issues in this agreement, including provisions on liability for Internet Service Providers and anti-circumvention measures over DRM. Following that, trade delegates are seeking to finalize and sign this agreement in December in a ministerial meeting in Singapore.

It’s unfortunate that news outlets are giving little coverage to TPP, when media attention could have a major impact on how the US and the other 11 nations draft digital policy. But public media coverage is precisely the sort of accountability that official secrecy thwarts. Instead of endorsing an agreement the public can’t read, a responsible paper would condemn the secrecy involved. And if the Times has seen the text and knows what’s contained in the TPP, then they have a responsibility to publish the text immediately and expose the US government’s back room dealings.

In either case, it is deeply disappointing that the New York Times would even support the TPP when the public remains in the dark. An endorsement of TPP at this stage is an endorsement of opaque, corporate-driven policymaking.

The TPP is an agreement that’s currently being negotiated between Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore, aimed at simplifying trade between the 12 nations. Negotiations have been ongoing for close to two and a half years, with the TPP agreement said to be over 1,000 pages long, including a significant chapter relating to intellectual property and copyright.

The countries involved have set what is said to be an “ambitious” target of having the negotiations resolved by the end of this year, but much work still needs to be done before the agreement can be said to be completed. Negotiators are due to meet in Salt Lake City next week to continue negotiations on the agreement.

The IP chapter is said to be the most controversial because, an initial leaked copy of the draft text suggested that Australia and other member nations would be required to implement a three-strikes style graduated response system to dealing with online copyright infringement.

The treaty has been under negotiation for two and a half years and it is currently more than 1,000 pages long. The leaked chapter on IP covers DRM and other ‘technical measures’, extended copyright terms, increased penalties for infringement and ISP liability, and expanded patents on technology and software.

The leaked document is getting its fair share of negativity from rights groups throughout the world.

Knowledge Ecology International says that TPP IPR chapter not only proposes the granting of more patents, expansion of rights holder privileges and increased penalties for infringement, but also plans the creation of intellectual property rights on data.

“The TPP text shrinks the space for exceptions in all types of intellectual property rights. Negotiated in secret, the proposed text is bad for access to knowledge, bad for access to medicine, and profoundly bad for innovation,” KEI concludes in a statement.

Burcu Kilic, an intellectual property lawyer with Public Citizen, says that some of the proposals remind him of SOPA.

“The WikiLeaks text also features Hollywood and recording industry inspired proposals – think about the SOPA debacle – to limit Internet freedom and access to educational materials, to force Internet providers to act as copyright enforcers and to cut off people’s Internet access,” Kilic says.

You can check out the leaked document on Wikileaks (PDF).

The United States is seeking broader protections for its pharmaceutical and other companies in negotiations on an ambitious Pacific trade deal, according to a document released Wednesday by WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange’s anti-secrecy activist website published what it said was the draft text as of late August for a chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being negotiated among 12 countries that comprise more than 40 percent of the world economy.

The text shows widespread disagreements among negotiators, despite calls from President Barack Obama to seal the agreement by the end of the year. Talks are scheduled to resume Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In multiple passages in the documents, the United States is seen as pressing for greater leeway for companies to seek patents in the medical field, a move that could potentially restrict cheaper generic drugs in the vast area.

In the notes, most nations part ways with the United States and support two-decade-old exemptions under the World Trade Organization for patents in certain areas related to public health.

The text also shows that the United States and Japan are seeking to restrict nations from denying patents on the argument that products do not result in “enhanced efficacy.”

Generic drug leader India, which is not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has cited that reason to deny patent protections, enraging major pharmaceutical companies.

The secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is the Obama administration’s bid to perpetuate US hegemony in Asia and lay the groundwork for a Pacific century led by American corporate and military muscle.

Although proponents of the TPP may claim that its focus is to help the economies of signatory countries create comprehensive market access, eliminate barriers to trade, improve labor rights and encourage environmental protection, every indication suggests that the wide-ranging agreement intends to maximize dramatically corporate revenues at the expensive of public health and safety, civil liberties and national sovereignty. While the significant majority of the draft text remains inaccessible and shielded from public scrutiny due to draconian non-disclosure agreements, leaks made available by courageous individuals via WikiLeaks indicate that this trade deal intends to champion corporate rights and blur the divisions between governments and multinationals. In essence, the stipulations of the trade deal would make governments – including their national laws to regulate public and environmental health – subservient to corporations and their maximization of profits.


a lot to get through here..if you dont know about the TPP then you need to do some reading..its coming to fruition by the end of the year..

you can find more information on it here:

“The secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is the Obama administration’s bid to perpetuate US hegemony in Asia and lay the groundwork for a Pacific century led by American corporate and military muscle.”

that pretty much sums it up..but its a lot more than that and it will directly effect every citizen in the countries involved..wikileaks got their hands on a leak of part of the over 1000 pages of text which has brought it back into focus..and the compliant media will be a doing the cheerleading for always..


~ by seeker401 on November 17, 2013.

6 Responses to “TPP: How can the New York Times endorse an agreement the public can’t read?”

  1. Reblogged this on Real News Australia.

  2. The media in Australia is worse…the worldwide media is controlled by six companies…and would you guess…they are involved in the TPP negotiations. That is why the media are part of the cover up. The Australian Govt. has already endorsed the TPP..without having read it.

    • Probably right Mick, Aussie media are so insular and controlled its a joke.

    • You are quite right Mick, Australian mainstream media is totally censored, including the communistic ABC orwellian gang. My extended family don’t go to mainstream media at all. We go online to Fair Dinkum Radio and listen to Leon who interviews really interesting people exposing how the world really works. I highly recommend to every aussie and internationally as well. If you subscribe (free) you get a weekly podcast straight to your emails every Thursday evening, and can listen to segments at your leisure when you choose during the week. The archives are also excellent for info from the Lima Agreement to bank bail-ins (stealing our deposits) coming our way soon, also UN Agenda 21 taking away our private property and individual rights by stealth via ICLEI infiltrating our local councils.

      • thanks sally..i cover all those topics on here as well..

        • Thanks Sally..I am also a fan of fairdinkumradio…I try to direct traffic in that direction…my own family are so busy watching serials on TV..drinking diet coke and pepsi…eating junk…there is no hope of ‘waking’ them…I will never stop trying to get through to others…some will..some won’t…so what..

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