Vancouver Sun: Canada joins TPP as critics warn Internet rights will suffer

Canada has now been formally admitted into the closed-door negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that could lead to harsh Internet restrictions and severe fines for everyday citizens.

Learn more about the TPP and how it could affect your Internet use at StopTheTrap.net.

Article by Gillian Shaw for The Vancouver Sun

Canada has officially joined Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, a move that Canadian Internet advocates say could result in harsh restrictions on Internet use in Canada and leave ordinary citizens facing heavy fines and banishment from the online world over accusations of copyright infringement.

“The (TPP) agreement is being negotiated in secret but we do know from documents we have obtained that in the agreement are provisions that make it so there can be heavy fines for average citizens online, you could be fined for clicking on a link, people could be knocked off the Internet and web sites could be locked off,” said Steve Anderson, founder of Vancouver’s OpenMedia.ca, which was joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. digital rights group Public Knowledge, the Council of Canadians, the global consumer advocacy group SumOfUs.org, the software company Tucows, the Chilean public interest group ONG Derechos Digitales and the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Public Citizen in opposing Canada’s move to join the negotiations, binding the country to the agreement when it is reached.

“This agreement will limit innovation and free expression,” said Anderson.

Adding insult to injury said Anderson is the fact that Canada, a latecomer to the negotiations, is joining with “second tier,” status, giving it less power than other countries in the talks.

Canada will join the talks with the 15th round of negotiations, scheduled to take place early December in Auckland, New Zealand.

More than 100,000 people signed a petition protesting Canada’s participation in the agreement, which Open Media warns could impose draconian restrictions on the Internet and cost Canada its sovereignty when it comes to Internet law.

“Under the TPP, Big Media conglomerates would have new powers to lock users out of their own content and services, provide new liabilities that might force ISPs to police online activity, and give giant media companies even greater powers to shut down websites and remove content at will. The agreement also threatens to give foreign conglomerates new powers to collect the private online information of Canadians,” OpenMedia.ca said in a release.

“These Internet restrictions would be cemented into place through international tribunals, which would sidestep Canada’s own judicial system.”

In an earlier post on this issue, I included an interview with Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and ecommerce law at the University of Ottawa, who told me the cost of Canada’s entry into the TPP negotiations was ”second tier status,” with Canada bound by terms already agreed to among the TPP partners.

The agreement would also require Canada to change its newly enacted copyright legislation.

“As it stands now in the draft that has been leaked and the goals of the United States, there is no question it would require a number of changes to the [copyright] legislation Canada has just now enacted and the government has spent the better part of two years claiming it strikes the right balance,” Geist said.

And from that earlier post, here are Geist’s comments on Canada’s inclusion in the TPP negotiations:

Geist said Canada’s entry into the agreement leaves Canadians liable for conditions they know nothing about.

“Just by entering into discussions we have effectively agreed to a number of conditions the government hasn’t even told us about.”

According to the leaked document, commercial and noncommercial copyright infringement would be treated alike when it comes to damages, putting ordinary Canadians at risk of much higher damages. Read more »

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