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A trade agreement Canada intends to sign will have “far-reaching implications for individual rights and civil liberties,” WikiLeaks says.
The group known around the world for publishing state secrets has released a draft chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal being negotiated under what it calls an “unprecedented level of secrecy.” Critics say the agreement favours corporate interests over consumers.
The leaked intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement proposes sweeping reforms including to pharmaceuticals, publishers, patents, copyrights, trademarks, civil liberties and liability of internet service providers.
“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, said in a press release.
“If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”
Canada joined TPP negotiations along with Mexico last October. It also includes other Pacific Rim countries Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam but not China. The member countries together represent a market of 792 million people and a GDP of $27.5 trillion, or 40 per cent of the world economy.
Internet freedom organizations, including Canada’s Openmedia.ca, have criticized the TPP’s intellectual property provisions, saying proposals in the agreement would restrict innovation and force internet service providers to police copyright.
WikiLeaks says provisions in the deal would create “supranational” courts that could override member nations’ judicial systems. The courts “have no human rights safeguards,” WikiLeaks stated.
The document contains provisions as well as proposed amendments and opposition from the various countries involved. Canada, for the most part, appears to stand in the majority view on many topics and against many U.S. demands, which were often supported by Australia or Japan.
Canada appears to take a more liberal stance on many issues than its southern neighbour. It supported the objectives of the agreement, which the U.S. and Japan opposed, that include maintaining “a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community in subject matter protected by intellectual property.”
“From a Canadian perspective, there is good news and bad news,” Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, wrote on his blog Wednesday morning.
“The good news is that Canada is pushing back against many U.S. demands by promoting provisions that are consistent with current Canadian law … The bad news is that the U.S. — often joined by Australia — is demanding that Canada roll back its recent copyright reform legislation with a long list of draconian proposals.”
Canada also proposed that the chapter’s provisions be compatible with other multilateral treaties including the World Trade Organization and World Health Organization, “especially with regards to measures aimed at protecting public health and protecting equal access to knowledge and food.” Mexico and the U.S. objected.
Meanwhile, the U.S and Australia added an amendment that would force each country to also sign onto 10 different international treaties by the time they enter the TPP. Canada and nine other nations opposed.
WikiLeaks says many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions in the agreement include stringent mechanisms proposed in the controversial U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
Enforcement measures for policing rights proposed in the document include supranational tribunals, to which national courts would be expected to defer.
The leak of what is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the highly secretive TPP comes ahead of the next round of negotiations in Salt Lake City, Utah from Nov. 19 to 24.
SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, was a proposed U.S. law that would have allowed the government to create a “blacklist” of copyright-infringing websites it could then block. Critics complained the government would be allowed to censor the internet without judicial oversight.
ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a stalled international pact that would greatly increase the power of international bodies to enforce copyright laws. Critics feared the pact would force governments to pass laws that would ban internet users from the web if they were found to be infringing copyright.
the fifth estate
Linden MacIntyre has been a co-host of CBC Television’s the fifth estate since 1990.
- 10 whistleblowers and the scandals they spurred
- Snowden case: Has Obama broken pledge to protect whistleblowers?
- Bradley Manning seeks presidential pardon for data leak
- Timeline: Edward Snowden
- Julian Assange: the man behind WikiLeaks
- NSA spying threatens to undermine U.S. foreign policy
- Database: Text of Canadian cables in WikiLeaks
- Brian Sinclair is Why We Need Medical Whistleblowers
The conscientious public servant, having agreed verbally with the reporter that the conflict of interest in his department is egregious, has privately explained how it works – and has now nervously consented to make available a document that will authenticate the story. There is a brief encounter in a busy public square. An envelope appears out of one briefcase, disappears into another. A silent whistle has been blown.
That was an actual transaction that occurred on an overcast autumn day in 1977. A crooked mayor lost his job because of it.
the fifth estate
This week on the fifth estate: “The Strange World of JulianAssange.” The controversialWikiLeaks founder gets the Hollywood treatment in the new movie ‘The Fifth Estate’. Watch CBC Television’s the fifth estate this Friday, Nov. 1, for the inside story of JulianAssange in his own words.
It’s a scenario that has played out many times. A provincial cabinet minister once handed me a devastating analysis of a hugely expensive public project. I had it for a weekend, it was about 150 pages long. Trusted friends and I laboriouslycopied the entire document on a typewriter before I gave it back – and started to report its contents.
Another leak: an associate in Ottawa drove to a residential address where, by arrangement, an envelope was recovered from a private mailbox. The document retrieved from that mailbox was instrumental in derailing a secret process to licence an agricultural drug of dubious value and demonstrated peril.
That’s the way the whistle blew in “the old days.” Now the revolution in technology has simplified the process and amplified the whistle to a degree that would have been unimaginable even 20 years ago.
‘Even the agencies of espionage are now publicly accountable for their tactics – all because a young civilian named Edward Snowden found some of their activities abusive and corrupt.’
The secret diplomatic pouch is now potentially transparent, as demonstrated by an outraged U.S. army private, Bradley/Chelsea Manning, who co-operated with Julian Assange and Wikileaks to blow the whistle on a global scale. And even the agencies of espionage are now publicly accountable for their tactics – all because a young civilian named Edward Snowden found some of their activities abusive and corrupt.
The names Assange, Manning and Snowden are associated with a transformation in the vulnerability of institutions in both the public and private realms.
Institutions gather, store and analyze vast amounts of information about individuals and other institutions. The process, even when intentions are benign, is nonetheless invasive.
The purpose of the information gathering is, in one rendering, to protect us from each other and ourselves. But it is also for the purpose of manipulation, to influence how we vote and spend and think. And so, people of a certain moral profile who have access to the information will be offended and some will risk liberty and life to let us in on what the institutions know about us.
That’s the way the world has worked since people first discovered the utility of information and the power of secrecy. In a memorable scene from the movie The Fifth Estate, a journalist opines that speeches in the British House of Commons were once so secret that people caught leaking them to the public were hanged for it. Not exactly true – but the Commons debates were conducted secretly, and people went to prison for reporting them in pamphlets. Public outrage, fired by whistleblowing, eventually put a stop to secrecy in parliament.
The modern pamphlet is a blog or tweet, the brown envelope is now a tiny thumb-drive with the information-carrying capacity of a truckload of paper documents. And from the opposing perspective, technology has also enabled institutions to delve deeply into private lives for law enforcement, commerce and the vague new project known as “public safety”.
‘The human tendency to be offended by abuse – torture in a secret prison, a lie told under oath to fool the public, squandering of public treasure – remains a vital force in conscientious people.’
Technology has changed, but human nature hasn’t and that’s a good thing. The human tendency to be offended by abuse – torture in a secret prison, a lie told under oath to fool the public, squandering of public treasure – remains a vital force in conscientious people.
And we witness their responses with sufficient frequency to remind the advocates and practitioners of secrecy that they are vulnerable, too. They’re at the mercy of basic human instincts (be they narcissistic or humanitarian), and the technology that makes their secrets more accessible and portable than at any other time in human history.
The furious response to Manning and Wikileaks and Snowden underscores the impact of the message in their actions just as it obscures a fundamental question: Why did they do what they did and for whose benefit?
There was no possibility of personal gain and almost certainly they faced the prospect of severe punishment. They have been accused of recklessness and treachery. Extremists have called for their deaths. Manning will spend decades in prison. Both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are fugitives from a prosecution that would be familiar to a Guantanamo detainee.
Maybe they were delusional. But the information inherent in the act of whistleblowing is perhaps more useful than the sordid details in the documents they leaked.
What we know shapes what we think. What we think determines our behaviour. There will always be clandestine efforts to manage what we think and thus control how we behave as consumers and as citizens. But there is also a fundamental human impulse to resist manipulation and, because secrecy is essential to manipulation and control, there will always be individuals who will rebel against it.
The English philosopher Jeremy Bentham put it strongly – but his words have been embraced in principle and often quoted by politicians and jurists while making and interpreting our laws: “In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing.”
In another essay more than 200 years ago, Bentham said, “Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government”.
Those are words that whistleblowers live by, which makes them auditors of governance and guarantors of our democracy.
[This week on the fifth estate: “The Strange World of Julian Assange.” The controversial WikiLeaks founder gets the Hollywood treatment in the new movie ‘The Fifth Estate.’ Watch CBC Television’s the fifth estate this Friday, Nov. 1, for the inside story of Julian Assange in his own words.]
- Whistleblowers should be protected, not prosecuted 30/09/13 (angrybeardyleftydude.wordpress.com)
- Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, Alexa O’Brien, David Coombs: The War on Whistleblowers and Their Publishers (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Mass Data: Transfers from Germany Aid US Surveillance (rinf.com)
- Edward Snowden (sourcewatch.org)
- Snowden’s links to WikiLeaks and journalists raise questions (miamiherald.com)
Julian Assange Discusses Mainstream Media, the “Wikileaks Party” and our Global Awakening | A Lightning War for Liberty
- Who are our Wikileaks Candidates? (lateralloveaustralia.com)
- WikiLeaks founder and Australian Senate candidate Julian Assange proud of support in homeland (foxnews.com)
- WikiLeaks founder proud of Australian support (nzherald.co.nz)
- The Wikileaks Party (lateralloveaustralia.com)
- Julian Assange: conviction of Bradley Manning a dangerous precedent (theguardian.com)
- Our very own dissident (jewishnews.net.au)
- Bradley Manning prosecutor calls him a traitor (sfgate.com)
- Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning ‘is a traitor who set out to reveal secrets to anarchists and bask in the glory’, say trial prosecutors in closing arguments (dailymail.co.uk)
- In Closing Argument, Government Casts Bradley Manning as ‘Anarchist,’ ‘Hacker’ & ‘Traitor’ (dissenter.firedoglake.com)
- Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning ‘is a traitor’, say trial prosecutors in closing arguments (dailymail.co.uk)
- US: Alleged leaker Manning is a ‘traitor’ (euronews.com)