Another Announcement About TPP Wrapping Up Publishes

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), one of the trade deals that has little to do with trade and more to do with fulfilling global corporate interests, is in the news again. Recently, a press release said that the agreement is close to being wrapped up. Will this be the announcement that signals a finalization is on the horizon or is this another deadline being set that will be missed?

The TPP is one of the many dark clouds that is looming on the horizon for Internet digital rights. From the digital rights perspective, the TPP would, according to leaked documents last year bring in a global DMCA, a global three strikes law, ISP level censorship, and eliminate privacy for those who own a domain name. Of course, the list of concerns is far longer, but that’s a small sample just from the lens of digital rights.

Recently, a press release was published saying that the TPP could soon be wrapped up in the first half of 2015. From the article:

Prime Minister John Key says the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations could be wrapped up in the next six months and put in front of the various parliaments of the 12 nations spanning the Asia Pacific.

Speaking at his post-Cabinet press conference in Wellington, Key said he discussed the progress of the TPP negotiations with US Trade Representative Mike Froman while at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and that there was growing optimism a deal would be completed and could be put in front of legislatures to debate this year.

“There seems to be strong feeling that a successful TPP could be negotiated in the first half of this year,” Key said. “There was more confidence the TPP will be concluded than the US Europe FTA and the view expressed to me by Mike Froman was that they really felt they were getting quite close.”

It’s extremely easy to read this and get worked up over a possible new battle over Internet rights. Indeed, if the TPP does go in front of legislatures around the world, it would be extremely bad news for citizens everywhere given what it stands to take away if the repeated leaked documents are anything to go by.

For those who have watched these negotiations for years, though, these announcements of the TPP being close to being finalized are nothing new. Announcements of the TPP being close to being finalized date back to at least 2013. From one article in 2013, one reason for the delay in 2013 was concerns over copyright proposals in the agreement. Another article suggested that automakers were concerned over currency related issues. How many reasons there were for the delay is unclear, but was clear was that promises were made that the deal would be done by 2013 and the deadline came and went with no trade deal. A reprieve for many to say the least.

So, there is reason for being skeptical about the latest announcement. Given what happened last time, it’s entirely possible that something will happen and the agreement will once again be delayed. A finalized trade deal is likely going to happen, but when this is going to happen remains to be a very big question. What should one look for if announcements aren’t enough? Likely something more concrete. One possibility might be an announcement that the text is finalized. Another possibility would be that the text is published in its final form (if that ever happens given how secretive this “trade” deal has been all this time). A third possibility might be that the text has been brought forth to legislatures around the world. Any one of these could give more reason for citizens to be concerned that something is really coming.

In the mean time, consumer rights advocates will have to be on their guard as this stands to be one of the next biggest fights between corporate interests and every day people.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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