Sons and daughters, you ain’t getting much for free.
Chalk Circle, 1989
After 5 years of secret negotiations, and just a few short weeks before Canadians go to the poll, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has been finalized (although it still needs to be ratified in each of the member countries).
no few details on the agreement have been released to Canadians.
Our Prime Minister has touted this secret trade deal as being “in the best interests” of the Canadian economy. Because, you know, the economy is the only interest that matters to this particular government, never mind the other public interests a government is supposed to look out for.
Like the privacy of Canadians. Apparently, under the new TPP deal, Canada will lose some of the power it has to protect our personal data as the TPP will “prevent national governments from cutting off data flows, by limiting laws that require local storage of data.” Let that personal data flow!
They see gold in your trees and gold in your people
They’ll be panning for it in your water
It will also take longer for works to enter the public domain in Canada as the TPP will extend the term of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the death of the creator. 20 more years for publishers to make a few more dollars off of the backs of people who have been dead for decades, and keep our own culture out of our collective hands. What is even worse is that this clause could be retroactive, meaning that works in Canada that are currently in the public domain could become locked up again. And, as the Society for American Archivists notes in their opposition to the TPP, a healthy public domain is, “…essential in fostering new creativity and advancing knowledge. It provides a storehouse of raw materials from which individuals can draw to learn and create new ideas or works.”
Then there are the other aspects of the deal that smell, like removing the ability of web browsers to copy websites – a necessary function of web browsers as this is fundamentally how a web browser works. When a browser visits a website, what you are seeing in the browser is actually a copy stored in your browsers cache of that website.
Or the controversial whistle-blower clause that would make it a crime to post leaked corporate documents on the internet (a clause that was, ironically, first leaked on the internet from the secret negotiations).
Of course, none of these are known because details of the deal have not been released. Just a high level overview.
Here in Canada, we go to the polls in less than 2 weeks, so this timing is critical. The deal will be touted by the current government as a boon for Canada without the Conservatives having to share the actual details of the deal in enough time to make it an actual election issue. Once again, as it has done so effectively in the past, this Stephen Harper government has shrouded their activities in secrecy.