Why SOPA Supporters Need Secrecy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Why SOPA Supporters Need Secrecy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Why SOPA Supporters Need Secrecy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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    The fight for a globally unified and open Internet will
    never end, but so far the Internet community has been on a winning streak. This has become apparent to both
    Congress and to the forces
    that supported SOPA
    . It is
    this dynamic that has prompted the preemptive effort by policy makers
    attempting to pass major cyber security legislation to explain how
    their legislation is not SOPA

    It is also what is fueling the effort by SOPA supporters and their
    allies in government to keep everything that is happening in the Trans-Pacific
    Partnership (TPP) a mystery to the public. 

    When decisions on Internet policy were publicly debated as
    they were with SOPA, virtually everything supporters wanted from the Internet (after
    spending more than $100 million lobbying) was rejected by the American people. Therefore, the only way to counteract
    this in the future is to avoid a public debate altogether. That is why TPP has been, and remains
    to be, drafted and negotiated (with special interests’ involvement) completely
    in secret.

    If TPP is not subject to basic transparency and a public
    debate, Congress will pass a TPP containing any number of the rejected
    provisions of SOPA through a process called policy
    . This is due to the
    fact that a trade agreement, once it comes to Congress, will only happen after
    the White House receives a renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This authority will allow the United
    States Trade Representative (USTR) to submit to Congress a finalized trade
    agreement that prompts a mandatory vote and could not be amended, filibustered,
    or blocked in any manner. 

    It is
    worth recalling that the only reason SOPA is not already law today is due to
    all of these procedural options. Now while TPA will have to go through the normal legislative process, it
    will be hard for a majority of Congress to vote against it given that many in
    Congress support fast tracking trade agreements as a general matter. Again, keeping what is actually being
    proposed in TPP a secret helps avoid having a debate during the TPA renewal

    Here is how the public can avoid this future. Public Knowledge believes the public
    has a right to know what their government is advocating in the international
    trade agreement arena when it comes to the future of the Internet. It is worth noting that there are two
    types of TPP.  One is a finalized
    TPP that every country has signed off on and the other is each individual
    country’s wish list. Therefore,
    the USTR should disclose its wish list for the Internet so that it is clear
    what the government is advocating on behalf of the public. Once that information is made
    available, then Americans can voice their opinion to their government and the
    USTR can change its advocacy where appropriate based on public input.  Such a process would ensure that the USTR
    wish list for the TPP is in fact reflective of the American people. 

    A functional democracy is dependent on an informed citizenry and so far
    the American democracy has made very clear where it stands when presented with
    choices on Internet policy. The
    only feasible way for SOPA supporters to bypass the public is to keep them uninformed
    through secrecy and to stifle
    opportunities for public input.

    However, this is still a democracy and they can only do this if the
    public does not voice its opposition to the process. Each day this process continues is another day the hard
    fought victory against SOPA could have been for nothing.

    If you disagree with what is going on with the TPP, please take a moment to sign our petition.