Archive | TTIP

Told you so

Do criticize and protest against president Trump. He deserves it.

But do not forget that you were warned against mass surveillance and other forms of Bigbrotherism long before Trump.

When people now react to the Trump-administrations ideas of having all who travel to the US to hand over social media information and cell phone contacts…

Miller also noted on Saturday that Trump administration officials are discussing the possibility of asking foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit, and to share the contacts in their cell phones. If the foreign visitor declines to share such information, he or she could be denied entry.

…they should remember that this is the brainchild of the Obama administration. Then it was voluntarily, but none the less.

A bad idea is a bad idea, whoever comes up with it. This should have been stopped in its tracks, from the beginning.

It’s not about liking or trusting a certain politician or a political party. It’s a matter of principle.

You should never give government tools for mass surveillance (or other tools that can be used to oppress the people) that wouldn’t be safe regardless of whose hands it ends up in.

Ignorance and partisanship brought us here.

And yet, we have no idea of how President Trump is going to use or abuse the powers of the CIA and the technical capabilities of the NSA.



On TTIP, CETA, free trade and a free and open Internet

I’m a free marketeer. I believe that free trade would be hugely beneficial for all.

I also believe in a free and open Internet. Especially as it provides a level playing field on which entrepreneurs from all over the world can join a global market, 24/7.

And I’m not at all happy with politicians and bureaucrats trying to force me to choose between the two.

The CETA (EU-Canada) and TTIP (EU-US) trade agreements are problematic. CETA will undermine Europeans right to data protection and privacy online. The same goes for TTIP, which also might contain intellectual property regulations undermining the principle that Internet service providers are not responsible for what their customers are up to in their cables (the mere conduit principle). That would have huge implications, leading to a strictly controlled Internet where everything you are up to must be approved in advance. When it comes to TTIP, we still have no comprehensive information about what is going to be included or not when it comes to IP – as negotiations are carried out behind closed doors.

Also, the ISDS mechanism in these trade agreements will make a much needed and long overdue copyright reform impossible.

But then, again, these trade agreements are not really about free trade. They are about »harmonizing« rules and regulations. So, they are really about regulating trade.

If you want free trade, all you have to do is to get rid of customs fees and other trade barriers. That would benefit us and all of the humanity greatly. But that is not what the politic and bureaucratic elite hope for. They want to regulate and control. The EU even has a special sub-bureaucracy for »trade defense«.

So, I don’t buy into it when they claim that these »free trade agreements« are about free trade.

I’m standing with free trade. And I’m standing with a free and open Internet. It is perfectly possible and logical to combine these standpoints with being critical to CETA and TTIP.



The latest on TTIP and CETA

At a key meeting in Bratislava last Friday, EU ministers effectively put the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations on hold, perhaps forever. Even the perennially upbeat EU commissioner responsible for trade, Cecilia Malmström, admitted: “All ministers expressed their doubts about being able to conclude this before the end of the Obama presidency, and indeed, it looks increasingly unlikely.” Since both candidates for the US presidency have said they are dissatisfied with current trade negotiations, that makes TTIP’s long-term fate extremely uncertain. (…)

The failure to be anywhere near completion of TTIP after three and a half years of negotiations has added to the political pressure on EU ministers to pass the smaller trade deal with Canada, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Despite worries expressed by a number of member states, it looks increasingly likely that EU nations will formally sign CETA on October 18.

Glyn Moody in Ars Technica: TTIP on its deathbed, but CETA moves forward despite growing concerns »


More on TTIP, IP and the Internet

“Reading between the lines, it would seem that the United States negotiators are being heavied by their IP industries to push for stronger measures on IPR enforcement. This would be consistent with the industry lobbying on the previous attempt for an EU-US copyright treaty – known as ACTA or Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It is also consistent with the intensity of the relationship between the lead US negotiating body, the United States Trae Representative (USTR) and representatiives of the US entertainment industries – notably the Motion picture Association of America (MPAA).

A suggestion that is hinted at by the EU negotiators is a new IPR Committee. It is not clear where such a committee would be based, or what its role is, but we can safely assume that it will incorporate the interests of the US corporations who seek to influence EU policy.”

Monica Horten at – TTIP leaks: US warned on sensitive IPR issues »


Todays TTIP leak and the Internet

Today a batch of documents concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been leaked by Greenpeace.

As suspected there are worrying indications when it comes to the future of a free and open Internet.

• TTIP might result in the EU and US being able to ignore fundamental human rights (such as the right to privacy) when it comes to telecommunications. This is serious, as such issues have been central in previous legislative acts concerning the Internet.

• With the EU-US Privacy Shield still being a pretty open issue, TTIP seems to move the issue of data transfers in favour of Big Data. It is doubtful if there will be any meaningful protection of personal data being transferred from EU to the US.

• When it comes to Intellectual Property (IP), there are signs that TTIP will move to make Internet Service Providers to “voluntary” police the net. In other words, TTIP seems to make another try to re-introduce IP provisions that the European Parliament has already rejected in ACTA.

IP issues in TTIP seems to be open for negotiations and last-minute amendments. EDRi explains…

Concerning so-called “Intellectual Property” (IP), the negotiators seem to take lobbyists’ wish list very seriously. According to the leaked report, “[w]hen confronted with EU warning that bringing sensitive proposals that would require changes in EU law to the table – and doing it at a late stage of the negotiation – may have a negative impact on stakeholders” (which would apparently not include citizens) “and has very limited chances of being accepted”, the US seemed to be prepared to depart from the model of the TPP. Among the proposals the US is thinking of tabling, it includes privatised enforcement measures, that EDRi has been criticising since its inception because they bypass the rule of law and lead to arbitrary corporate decision-making without accountability (cf. “voluntary stakeholder initiatives”). As with ACTA, the US is strongly supportive of “voluntary initiatives” as US-based global giants already impose US copyright law on a global level. The EU (as shown by the recent leak of the Communication on Platforms) supports this approach.

It’s still early days. And there is no lack of warning signals.

So, I guess there will be yet another battle over a free and open Internet. (Frustratingly, in part it seems to be the same battle over IP issues being fought over and over again.)


• Greenpeace: TTIP Leaks »
• EDRi: TTIP leaks confirm dangers for digital rights »
• The Guardian: Leaked TTIP documents cast doubt on EU-US trade deal »
• Europan Commission: EU negotiating texts in TTIP »
• EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström: Negotiating TTIP »


TTIP: The deceitful EU commissioner

EU:s commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmström, claims that the negotiations over the new EU-US trade agreement, TTIP, are the most transparent trade negotiations ever.

Well, this might actually be true — as such negotiations normally are conducted in total secrecy. But transparent? No.

There is nothing like an open, democratic process about TTIP. Negotiations are still being conducted behind closed doors. Not even politicians in EU member states or members of the European Parliament are allowed normal access to the documents.

For instance, nothing is known about the TTIP IP chapter — containing issues related to patents and copyright. This is the part of TTIP where it is believed that we (eventually) will find statues restricting openness and freedom on the Internet.

The plan is obvious: The EU and the US are trying to keep TTIP under wraps until there is an final document, that cannot be changed. They believe that an all or nothing approach will make it harder for elected parliamentarians to reject the agreement.



Reclaim democracy!

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

The phrase is well known and frequently used by politicians who are in favour of mass surveillance.

First of all, all people have something to hide. And in the unlikely event that someone really has nothing to hide – this person almost certainly have been trusted with secrets by others (such as friends and their employer).

Second, the very same politicians are not at all interested in letting the people know what they themselves are up to. They loathe transparency and openness. Because they do have things to hide.

Let’s take the secretly negotiated EU–US trade agreement, TTIP, as an example. Already it is almost derailed because of the controversial dispute settlement instrument, ISDS. That was something the people was not supposed to know about. EU and US officials are not at all happy that this detail has been publicly known and put into question.

Most parts of the TTIP are still secret. E.g. the IP chapter concerning copyright and its’ consequences for an open and free internet. By keeping this text under wraps the European Commission and the US administration hope to minimize scrutiny and opposition until the very last moment. (When nothing can be changed.)

Not even the peoples elected representatives in national parliaments and in the European Parliament — the very people who are supposed to approve or reject TTIP — are allowed free access to the latest texts. (Link»)

This is not the way to behave in a democratic society. Instead you should embrace openness, critical analysis and a free debate.

All this secrecy is a very real problem. But what troubles me even more is the blatant double standards. The people is supposed to silently subject itself to mass surveillance — while our leaders claim the right to conduct their business in secret.

It’s time to reclaim democracy!


Link: Politicians can only view secret trade pact in special viewing room »


TTIP — What to expect when it comes to Internet related issues

Just before summer recess the European Parliament adopted a resolution regarding the EU-US trade agreement, the TTIP. It was generally positive to an agreement — even though the actual content of the TTIP still is unknown, in large parts.

Free trade as in free trade is a positive thing. But is this what the TTIP is about? Some would say it’s more about regulations. But we cannot tell for sure. The negotiations are conducted behind closed doors and the legislators in the European Parliament will probably not be allowed to see the entire text until negotiations are over. And then it will be to late to change anything. At that point all they can do is to to adopt or reject the whole package.

That was what happened with the ACTA agreement. It was also negotiated in secret. And it was also a package deal, impossible to change. Due to (among other things) possible limitations to a free and open Internet — the European Parliament surprised everyone by rejecting the deal.

So what’s in store when it comes to “intellectual property” and the Internet in TTIP? We still don’t really know. Some documents have been released (link»). But they are of a rather general nature and reveal very little when it comes to Internet related issues. But we have some indications.

This spring the European Parliaments legal affairs committee made a strong recommendation to exclude Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) from the TTIP (link»). However, in its’ recent resolution the EP failed to follow up on this recommendation (link»).

And we have the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, the TPP. One TPP document leaked by Wikileaks (link») suggests the following…

The 95-page, 30,000-word IP Chapter lays out provisions for instituting a far-reaching, transnational legal and enforcement regime, modifying or replacing existing laws in TPP member states. The Chapter’s subsections include agreements relating to patents (who may produce goods or drugs), copyright (who may transmit information), trademarks (who may describe information or goods as authentic) and industrial design.

The longest section of the Chapter – ’Enforcement’ – is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons. Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards. The TPP IP Chapter states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence. The IP Chapter also replicates many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions from the shelved SOPA and ACTA treaties.

It is expected that the TTIP will include something similar.

This suggests that TTIP will be ACTA all over again — when it comes to IPR, Internet related issues and civil rights.

The TTIP has already been heavily criticised when it comes to the “investor state dispute settlement” chapter, ISDS. But due to lack of substantial information civil society, activists and the media have yet not had any opportunity to react to any IPR and Internet related issues.

This might be a lesson the EU and US administrations have learned from ACTA — to play their cards close to their chest. The later this information is released, the harder it will be to build momentum for a campaign like the one that took down ACTA.

However, this is a weak plan. We know that there will be something. And we have some indications about what to expect. We are ready to take on the TTIP in full force and with short notice — to defend a free and open Internet. Like we did with ACTA.

I most strongly do recommend the EU and US administrations to follow the European Parliaments legal affairs committees recommendation to exclude IPR (and Internet related issues) from TTIP if they want this agreement to come true.

But they won’t.



Sony & MPAA to use trade agreements to stop copyright reform

Some days ago Wikileaks released the “dump” from the Sony hack. Among other things, we can find this piece of information…

“Finally, in regard to trade, the MPAA/MPA with the strong support of your studios, continue to advocate to governments around the world about the pressing the need for strong pro-IP trade policies such as TPP and the proposed EU/US trade agreement (TTIP).”

i) This might refer to the ISDS article of TTIP, allowing companies to sue countries who are changing laws in ways that may limit these companies future profits. In this case, suing the EU if it would reform its legal framework on copyright.

ii) It might also be a signal that TTIP will be yet another attempt to limit the freedom of the Internet — and to force Internet Service Providers to police (and be responsible for) everything their customers are up to. (Like in the ACTA treaty, that was voted down by the European Parliament.)

Probably both.

Today, copyright and “intellectual property” are concepts that are used in ways they where never intended to. They have become arguments for limiting free flow of information and free speech. They have become arguments for mass surveillance and control. And they are suffocating the free market.

Copyright must be reformed and adopted to todays markets and todays technology. But apparently Big Entertainment is doing all in its power to stop such a reform.

Finally, I love free trade. But I’m not so sure that is what trade agreements like TTIP is about. It looks more like regulations and restrictions, in many areas. And you don’t need trade agreements to have free trade. All you have to do is to open up your borders.



Intellectual property and trade agreements vs. a free and open internet

Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights is often included in various international trade agreements.

Sometimes this is done in general terms, not making any distinction between e.g. patents, copyright, trademarks and geographical indications. Politicians just look at the supposed value of IP–and decide that they want to protect it. (A rather blunt approach.)

In other cases IP issues are very specific, like in the (rejected) ACTA agreement. In ACTA the text suggested “voluntary cooperation” between copyright holders and internet service providers (ISP:s) to curb online piracy. This would, had the agreement been approved, have led to ISP:s having to police the net. And to police the net, you need to inspect and analyze all internet traffic.

Both approaches are problematic. Especially as international trade agreements normally are negotiated by bureaucrats behind closed doors–in effect impossible to influence for the general public and our elected representatives. This is a serious problem, as these agreements often will have the same impact as laws.

Naturally, you must be able to distinguish between different sorts of IP.

And you must make sure that international trade agreements are in line with important legal principles–as mere conduit in the EU E-Commerce Directive, ensuring that internet service providers are not liable for the information transmitted.

The next international trade agreement that might try to enforce IP rights is the EU-US free trade agreement, TTIP.

Naturally, free trade as in free trade is commendable. And if the interested parties are serious about setting up a transatlantic area of free trade–they ought to go easy on the IP chapter (or leave it out all together).

Any new attempts to enforce certain IP rights by trade agreements will backfire the same way ACTA did.

Cato Institute on Intellectual Property in Trade Agreements »
The ACTA demon rises. Again. And again. And again… »
Electronic Commerce Directive (EU) »
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) »