Internet Australia raises concerns over ‘hidden consequences’ of TPP


news Internet Australia, an organisation that represents Internet users, has called for “widespread debate” on all the provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, especially those that could have “hidden consequences”.

The official text of the TPP agreement was released on 5 November.

“It is unfortunate that organisations like Internet Australia were not consulted during our government’s negotiations over the TPP,” said Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton in a statement released on 8 November. “There is a great deal of material for us to go through now and some of it has significant implications for the Internet”.

Internet Australia says is currently working through key sections of the TPP text in order to evaluate possible impacts on Internet users.

“We have serious concerns in a number of areas,” said Patton. “The TPP is very detailed, very prescriptive, and there is a risk that it will stand in the way of important reforms of Intellectual Property law. Reforms that are particularly relevant to Internet users.

He said there is a possibility that the TPP will place obligations on government to make laws that could adversely affect the Internet: “For example, we fear more onerous legislation in relation to the unlawful downloading of film and TV content, where this could involve costs for ISPs that flow through to Internet users in the form of increased access fees.”

Internet Australia, Patton said, does not believe site-blocking is the most appropriate way to deal with unlawful downloading of content. He suggested “making content available and easily accessible, at reasonable prices, will do much more to eliminate Internet ‘piracy’.”

The organisation also said the TPP text suggests that Australia should have ‘safe harbour’ provisions “that protect ISPs from prosecution if they remove or disable access to alleged copyright material”.

“We are looking at this to determine if the wording of this provision is reasonable. We note that Australia currently does not have safe harbour provisions of this kind,” Patton said.

While Internet Australia is primarily concerned about the implications for the Internet and its users, it also claimed the government had not sought sufficient advice from external experts before agreeing to the TPP.

“As we found with the flawed data retention legislation that resulted from a lack of adequate external consultation, it appears that the government has failed to engage with the people who best understand the implications of many of the provisions of the TPP”, Patton said.

“The TPP is far too important to be rushed through without every section being fully debated. The likelihood at this stage is the focus will be on the clearly beneficial elements of the agreement and that this will overshadow the risks contained in some of the fine print,” he concluded.


    • +1 it’s a massive take over of our rights and watering down of our democracy by Multi-National corporations!

    • Btw, some very good info here from former US Labour Secretary Robert Reich (under Clinton):

      This is the sort of thing that should ring Alarm bells!!!

      Lobbyists from America’s biggest corporations and Wall Street’s biggest banks have been involved but not the American public. That’s a recipe for fatter profits and bigger paychecks at the top, but not a good deal for most of us, or even for most of the rest of the world.

      The TPP also gives global corporations an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets.

      Even better for global companies, the tribunal can order compensation for any lost profits found to result from a nation’s regulations. Philip Morris is using a similar provision against Uruguay (the provision appears in a bilateral trade treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland), claiming that Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations unfairly diminish the company’s profits.

      In other words, the TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.

  1. Whenever a treaty favours one side’s interests over others you can bet it’s unfair. And both the TPP and TTIP do this egregiously, overwhelmingly supporting the rights of corporations and private investors over both the public and smaller businesses and tying the hands of any government that supports them. Whether it’s copyright and intellectual property, GMO’s, pharmaceuticals, labelling, unions, these treaties heavily discriminate against the citizen and seriously compromise civil society and the democratic decision making process. What’s more, the treaties from start to finish have been shrouded in secrecy, offering concerned citizens no ability to scrutinise, much less appeal, the provisions contained within them until recently. And even now, civil society has been given virtually no time to fully debate the implications, nor enough time for the enormity of the crime against democracy that’s about to be perpetrated to sink in with the general public.

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