Transparency and openness needed in TPPA Intellectual Property negotiations

12 August 2015

InternetNZ says today's protest actions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) draws valid attention to concerns regarding the secrecy surrounding the deal.

"The Internet community in New Zealand and worldwide negotiates standards, protocols, policies and governance arrangements in the full light of day," says InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter.

"This has two beneficial effects.

"First: anyone who is interested can add their voice to the discussion. All relevant perspectives are on the table. Contributions are judged on their merits – strength of argument and logical coherence tend to win the day.

"Second: this entrenched transparency helps make sure special privileges for selected groups are hard to allow or to defend," Jordan Carter says.

InternetNZ is a strong supporter of the open creation of requirements for Internet policy for these reasons. Other debates on intellectual property have historically happened the same way – for example, in the World Intellectual Property Organisation's procedures.

Mr Carter says this open approach has given the world the open Internet we all benefit from today.

"The huge gains it generates now – and will keep generating if allowed to continue – must not be put at risk. Unfortunately, that is precisely what risks happening in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations.

"The TPPA is a mixture of a trade agreement, and a far-reaching effort to impose changes and standards on a diverse mix of economies on a very wide range of issues – issues that go far beyond traditional trade techniques.

"It isn't our call as to whether the TPPA should deal with Internet issues or not – that's a call for the negotiating parties to make.

The main Internet policy issues affected by the TPPA are those dealt with in the Intellectual Property chapter.

InternetNZ believe where new areas of policy are involved, the old-fashioned secrecy and government-dominated decision-making of classic trade negotiations has no place and needs to go.

"Our message to Minister Groser and all those in the TPPA Negotiations is simple: keep the old ways for the old issues," Jordan Carter says.

"Bring the Internet related Intellectual Property negotiations into the open, where they belong – and in so doing, help protect the open Internet and all the benefits it creates."

InternetNZ will remain vigilant against any threat to the open Internet in New Zealand and asks TPPA parties to make this process more open and inclusive.

ENDS

For more information please contact InternetNZ's Communications Lead, Megan Bartrum, on 027 2591425 or email megan@internetnz.net.nz