Human Rights Watch Blasts TPP for “Serious Rights Concerns”

A major multinational human rights organization has called the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) out on major human rights concerns.

In previous reports, we mentioned that many organizations have come out against the TPP including human rights organizations. One of those human rights organizations have recently called the TPP out for what they call “serious rights concerns.

From the press release:

“As the TPP moves toward ratification, policymakers should reflect carefully on how the agreement will affect over 800 million people living in Pacific Rim countries,” said Sarah Margon, Washington Director at Human Rights Watch. “The TPP is a far-reaching agreement whose human rights harms should be addressed now before they are replicated in future trade and economic agreements worldwide.”

The agreement should have gone further to protect labor rights, and there are serious concerns with provisions related to the right to health, free expression and privacy online. The agreement’s labor chapter and associated bilateral agreements do not have adequate labor rights safeguards for countries with poor labor rights records, like Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, and Brunei.

While the press release is general in their criticisms, privacy rights is one of the major concerns we’ve uncovered in our analysis of the text.

Among other things, the TPP would force registrants of domain names to have their identities revealed. While this is in the context of domain squatting and trademark protection, it’s a very easy to see such a policy being exploited to quash government criticism in some countries.

One theoretical scenario might be that someone has set up a website to expose corruption in, say, the construction industry. If there are companies that have links to organized crimes and wrongdoing is uncovered by some, a website could theoretically be set up to expose such wrongdoing. Unfortunately, the registrant would have his or her name revealed in the Whois database. What’s to stop the government or even less lawful organizations from cracking down on that individual because that persons name and address would be public?

The risk isn’t exclusive to those who register the domains. Under the TPP, ISPs are required to install infrastructure to allow for mass surveillance. This might expose reporters who follow higher risk stories to those they don’t want to be exposed to.

Human Rights Watch also published a Q & A on the TPP which discusses privacy and free speech implications which raises numerous points about the TPP – many of which we’ve previously covered, but still worth the read.

These concerns raised by the organization does echo a very large chorus of organizations who have condemned the TPP on many fronts. Unfortunately, with all 12 countries being expected to sign off on the agreement next month, it’s difficult to see if politicians are really listening to these concerns at this point in time.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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