TPP Trade Agreement Could Spur Internet Censorship in Asia, Americas

by Tracy Knauer •

Could the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, mean more Internet censorship in Asia and the Americas? That’s what some online privacy advocates are saying as the new trade agreement moves closer to approval.

The countries involved in the TPP approved a final version of the trade agreement on Monday, Oct. 5. Now, the document needs approval by the legislatures and governments of each of the states before it goes into action.

The text of the draft agreement that was approved on Oct. 5 has not been made public. However, Wikileaks published the text of earlier versions that were leaked. The content of those documents has troubled Internet freedom advocates, who have mostly focused on the intellectual property provisions in the agreement.

Anti-censorship activists have had the TPP in their cross-hairs for some time. Wikileaks’s Julian Assange said in 2013 that the deal “would trample over individual rights and free expression,” including on the Internet.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also condemned the agreement as a threat to the sharing of information online.

Most recently, Meghan Sali of OpenMedia, a group that advocates for Internet openness, warned of the TPP, “What we’re talking about here is global Internet censorship. It will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money. This deal would never pass with the whole world watching–that’s why they’ve negotiated it in total secrecy.”

Since the text of the final draft of the TPP is not publicly available, it’s impossible to say exactly how it could impact online privacy and freedom. However, earlier versions suggest that the deal would require governments to restrict the sharing of online content that could be subject to intellectual property protections. That means it could lead to blocked content in particular countries. As of now, the countries that would potentially sign onto the TPP include Brunei, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Vietnam.

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