Internet governance expert says U.S. trying to strong-arm Canada into economically-damaging Internet censorship rules in international agreement

Leading expert Carolina Rossini tells Vancouver audience that carefully crafted Canadian copyright laws could be overturned by extreme U.S.-driven proposals in Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

November 19, 2013 – Carolina Rossini, a renowned U.S.-based expert on international Internet governance, told an audience in Vancouver last night that the U.S. government is trying to strong-arm Canada into adopting rules that would undermine free expression online and damage the Canadian economy. Over 120,000 people have spoken out about extreme Internet censorship rules revealed by a recent leak of a draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by Wikileaks.

"The U.S. government is trying to force Canada into adopting economically damaging Internet censorship rules for the benefit of American media conglomerates,” said Carolina Rossini, who is Project Director at the New America Foundation. “Canada has proven to the world that a balanced copyright law that guarantees Internet freedoms, shaped with society's input, can be achieved. And now the TPP puts that at risk."

Professor Rossini was speaking at an event in Vancouver organized by Gen Why Media and OpenMedia.ca, which brought together leading experts to discuss Internet freedom issues in the wake of recent bombshell revelations about online spying and the TPP.

Wikileaks last week released secret documents that confirmed how U.S. media conglomerates have been pushing an extreme Internet censorship plan behind closed doors as part of the TPP. The release of the text came ahead of a decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November that Canadians officials will participate in. Key decision makers from Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States are expected to be in attendance.

“The TPP’s Internet censorship has no place in the 21st century, and experts like Professor Rossini are quite rightly sounding the alarm,” said Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.ca, who also spoke at last night’s event. “Now we know for certain that the TPP could knock whole families offline while making the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed. It’s no wonder that U.S. media conglomerates went to such lengths to keep their plan a secret - locking out citizens, public interest groups and small businesses from the TPP talks entirely.”

Mr Anderson continued: “Now their secret is out, and it’s clear that the U.S. is trying to force Canada into accepting costly and unbalanced proposals that would wreak havoc on our digital economy. Canadians have been speaking out to tell the government to stand up for Canada and stop this U.S. plan to undermine our economy. Trade Minister Ed Fast and Prime Minister Harper must make a firm public commitment to say no to Internet censorship proposals in the TPP.”

Other leading experts have also been speaking out - University of Ottawa Professor Michael Geist has said the U.S. “is demanding that Canada rollback its recent copyright reform legislation with a long list of draconian proposals.”

In a multi-part series on his website, Professor Geist explains how the TPP would make the Internet more expensive by forcing ISPs to act as Internet cops, the costs of which would be passed on to users. Professor Geist also highlights how the TPP would block Canadians from public domain access to the works of important Canadian authors, including Marshall McLuhan, Gabrielle Roy, Donald Creighton, and Glenn Gould.

Groups from several TPP nations have banded together to call for a Fair Deal in the TPP. Over 120,000 citizens - including tens of thousands of Canadians - have spoken out against the TPP’s Internet censorship through an online campaign at https://openmedia.org/censorship

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.

Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia has engaged over half-a-million citizens, and has influenced public policy and federal law.

About the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement:

The TPP is one of the most far-reaching international free trade agreements in history. We know from leaked TPP draft texts that participating nations would be bound to much stricter and more extreme copyright laws than now exist under current national laws. These new rules would criminalize much online activity, invade citizens’ privacy, and significantly impact our ability to share and collaborate online.

Negotiators from 12 of the TPP negotiating nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States—met in Malaysia to discuss these changes without input from the public, creators, or most businesses. The negotiating documents are classified—unless you are one of just 600 industry lobbyists permitted to participate. TPP meetings took place in Malaysia from July 15th to the 24th.

Negotiators have indicated that they are in the “home stretch”, with leaders of the participating countries expecting a resolution sometime in October. However, reports have indicated that the intellectual property provisions have been quite a “challenging” issue for those behind the agreement.

Over 15,000 people have now signed a petition at http://OurFairDeal.org, which demands that negotiators reject copyright proposals that would restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights.

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Contact

David Christopher
Communications Manager, OpenMedia
1-778-232-1858
david@openmedia.ca

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