For years, everyone has enjoyed the Internet as the pioneer of absolute freedom to do what you’d wish without consequences, as long as you didn’t trample anyone else’s freedoms. The Internet was host to a boom in human understanding of the world around us, and a great source of information that could not be paralleled by anything else. Now, the question is: Did we speak too soon? It seems like the Internet might suffer some attacks due to legislation and trade agreements that will censor it once and for all, putting a stop to the immense “BANG!” of innovation that the world has received.
What Is The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)?
First, there was SOPA and PIPA, two devastating pieces of legislation from hell. Then, we had ACTA, which made a craptastic move in a global scale. Even while ACTA is being debated, other “trade agreements” are taking the scene behind our backs, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, TPPA in short. TPPA is a trade agreement that attempts to address the same issues addressed in ACTA. It simply reinforces the older trade agreement by placing “emphasis” on counterfitting and intellectual property protection. However, it goes much, much further than that.
The TPPA is a sort of concept that will undo everything that other copyright protection measures have worked hard to achieve. The older DMCA act allowed companies to protect their intellectual property without destroying basic liberties that everyone had . In fact, the FBI has already taken out sites like Megaupload just fine without the help of destructive trade practices like TPPA. Keep in mind that Megaupload was owned by a bunch of people in New Zealand, outside US jurisdiction. Imagine what regimes could do under TPPA, which provides many more freedoms than they actually need to counteract copyright infringement. It seems as if though this was not their intention when forming such a trade agreement.
TPPA’s intention is to subjugate the freedom of expression that users have across the Internet. Even though it doesn’t mean that governments will immediately hop onto this, it does mean that they’ll have the capability whenever they want. Part of the reason the United States constitution was written was to prevent people from possessing powers they can abuse. You can’t abuse a power you don’t have.
The Creepy Part
Yeah, I haven’t gotten to the “creepy part” yet. TPPA has been negotiated since 2010. The panel said they’d finish negotiations in 2011, but it’s still ongoing to the day this article is published. Here’s the creepy part, though: None of the contents of TPPA are ever to be released until four years after the negotiations have come and gone or collapsed. This means that the current participants in TPPA won’t be held accountable until their political terms have expired. Then, it would be too late to put the banhammer on them.
What do We Know?
TPPA is currently suspected for many things, including undermining access to medicine. It also undermines the fair use policy, putting a stop to free expression and technological innovation. This will literally impose censorship the likes of which people living in the United States and other non-censoring nations will never have experienced in their lives.
How Does The Tech Guy Know This?
Like any other “secret” negotiation, there’s always a mole that gives a scoop on the subject. If you want to stay up to date about TPPA’s development, you can always check out sources like this one.
What Can We Do?
Nothing. There’s literally nothing that can stop this, but with the right attitude, we can make the change. Letting events like the release of TPPA pass without any outrage gives people in power the nerve to come up with things like these. Keep in mind that the people’s numbers are always bigger.
Oh, And One More Thing…
There’s another draft in debate, called the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED/IPRED2). There have been papers published by people who know the law at least 1000 times better than I do about this. They don’t take kindly to it. Lawyers are concerned. Police is concerned. Judges have issues with it, and even many politicians are stunned at the dangers of this proposal. This is like the mother of all friggin’ hurricanes, and we’re about to swallow it all up!
By the way, under many of the stipulations in TPPA/IPRED/IPRED2, corporations are also screwed. We’re going to literally find no other use for the Internet than a pretty collection of routers scattered across the planet and nothing more. Bleeping lights, my friend… Bleeping lights…
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons