Hundreds of Tech Companies to Congress: #TPP and Fast Track Harms Digital Innovation and Users’ Rights

Posted: May 21, 2015 in Tech

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WASHINGTON – In a joint letter to Congress released, more than 250 technology companies and user rights organizations say that the extreme level of secrecy surrounding trade negotiations have led to provisions in agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that threaten digital innovation, free speech, and access to knowledge online, and the letter calls on Congress to come out against the Fast Track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), bill for legitimizing this secretive process. Its signatories include AVG Technologies, DreamHost, Namecheap, Mediafire, Imgur, Internet Archive, BoingBoing, Piwik, Private Internet Access, and many others.

The letter specifically identifies the TPP’s threats based on leaked texts of the agreement—how it threatens fair use, could lead to more costly forms of online copyright enforcement, criminalize whistleblowing and investigative journalism, and create investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) courts that would further jeopardize user protections in domestic laws. The Fast Track bill, the companies write, would legitimize the exclusive process that has led to these and other provisions, as well as undermine lawmakers’ efforts towards striking the right balance between the interests of copyright holders and those of innovators and users.

“We simply cannot allow our policymakers to use secret trade negotiations to make digital policy for the 21st century,” said Maira Sutton, global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Leaks of the TPP agreement have revealed time and time again that this opaque process has led to provisions that undermine our rights to free speech, privacy, and innovation online. The TPP is a huge threat to the Internet and its users. Full stop.”

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