Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., posted part of a draft Asian-Pacific trade agreement on his open government website on Tuesday, hoping to pressure the Obama administration to release more details about the pact.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, posted the intellectual property section of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to his "Keep The Web Open" site and urged Internet users to provide input on how the trade deal can be improved. Issa acknowledged that that language is likely out of date since the latest available draft is from February 2011. Still, he said he hopes to persuade the administration to release more details as it continues to negotiate the TPP.
"At a time when the American people and Internet users all around the world are rightfully wary of any closed-door negotiations that could adversely impact their ability to freely and openly access the Internet, the Obama administration continues to pursue a secretive, closed-door negotiating process for the Trans Pacific Partnership," Issa said.
Issa helped lead congressional opposition to anti-piracy legislation that he and other critics said would stifle innovation and free speech on the Internet.
The United States and eight other Asian-Pacific countries are meeting for a second week in Dallas for the 12th round of negotiations on the TPP. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is leading the negotiations for the United States, has defended the TPP process. In a letter last week to a group of law professors who complained that the TPP negotiations were too secretive, USTR Ron Kirk said he was "strongly offended by the assertion that our process has been non-transparent and lacked public participation. USTR has conducted in excess of 400 consultations with congressional and private stakeholders on the TPP, including inviting stakeholders to all of the twelve negotiating rounds."
Many public interest and consumer groups also worry that the TPP will call for enhanced protections for intellectual property while excluding some of the rights for Internet users included in U.S. law, such as fair use.
"If the U.S.'s goal is to encourage innovation and leave breathing room for innovative new businesses to experiment and thrive, it must stop demanding copyright provisions whose only practical effect is to protect existing business models and discourage anyone else from trying something new," Jodie Griffin, a staff attorney for Public Knowledge, said in a blog post last week outlining her group's concerns with the TPP.
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