OpenMedia joins huge coalition to tell U.S. Congress not to Fast Track secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership proposals
January 23, 2014 – An unprecedented network of advocacy organizations, labor unions, tech companies and environmental groups have initiated ten days of coordinated action aimed at halting the controversial “Fast Track” legislation introduced by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) earlier this month in an effort to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without a full Congressional debate. The “10 Days to Stop Fast Track” campaign will run from January 22-31.
More than 50 organizations are working together to oppose the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which threatens to remove the ability of Congress and the public to meaningfully debate trade agreements like the TPP and ensure necessary protections for basic rights.
Read over 50 reasons to oppose Fast Track here: http://StopFastTrack.com
View photos of actions across the country here: http://StopFastTrack.com/#photos
Participants include: OpenMedia, reddit, AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Fight for the Future, Imgur, Communications Workers of America, BoingBoing, Corporate Accountability International, the Machinists Union IAMAW, Electronic Frontier Foundation, MoveOn, Rainforest Action Network, United Students for Fair Trade, Organic Consumers Association, Popular Resistance, ThoughtWorks, Sea Shepherd, Citizens Trade Campaign, 350.org, Demand Progress, Progressive Democrats of America, GMO Action Alliance, Free Press, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Jobs With Justice, and more than 30 other groups.
Groups from across the political spectrum have condemned the TPP for its lack of transparency, and are now uniting to stop the Fast Track bill in the House of Representatives (HR 3830) and in the Senate (S 1900). Stopping Fast Track is the key to preventing the TPP from undermining democratic decision-making and negatively impacting communities in the U.S. and worldwide.
The StopFastTrack.com site lists logos from dozens of organizations allowing groups to articulate -- in their own words -- why they each oppose Fast Track.
"10 Days to Stop Fast Track" launched yesterday with a full day of rallies, Congressional office visits and other events across the country coordinated by the Communications Workers of America [See photos here] with support from the MoveOn National TPP team. Other groups have many actions planned during the 10-day period, including more on the ground protests, a Twitter Storm during the State of the Union, and a national call-in day on January 29th. The 10 days will culminate with an Inter-Continental Day of Action on January 31st, marking the anniversary of the passage of NAFTA, which will see hundreds of protests and events across North America.
Below are statements from several organizations participating in the 10 Days to Stop Fast Track.
For a complete list, go to http://StopFastTrack.com
“We oppose Fast Tracking TPP Internet censorship because it will make the Internet more policed, expensive, and censored,” said Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.org. “Over 125,000 people around the world have sent a message to TPP decision makers at https://openmedia.org/censorship”
“It is past time for the United States to get off the corporate hamster wheel on trade. Fast Track renews the undemocratic "trade promotion" process and completely fails to provide the transparency, accountability and oversight necessary for the far-reaching trade and investment agreements that the administration is negotiating,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “It is ironic that this year, which marks the 20th Anniversary of NAFTA, the supporters of that failed model are bringing forward a fast track trade promotion bill to bring us more of the same.”
"There is only one reason to negotiate an Internet treaty in secret: because you want to break the Internet,” said Cory Doctorow, co-editor of BoingBoing. “Moving copyright and Internet regulation out of the UN and into a series of smoke-filled rooms is a blinking red sign flashing WARNING CORRUPTION WARNING CORRUPTION for all to see. Congress must debate each substantive point in TPP, rather than abdicating its duties to the USTR."
Communications Workers of America:
"Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas," said Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen. "They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. We cannot abdicate this process to non-elected representatives. We cannot let foreign policy objectives trump domestic concerns and in the process unravel our own democracy instead of strengthening others."
Corporate Accountability International:
“If Congress approves Fast Track, it’s not just delegating its trade authority to the White House, it's effectively signaling its tacit approval to the largest corporate-driven trade agreement in U.S. history before even seeing it,” said Jesse Bragg, spokesperson for Corporate Accountability International. “The TPP is a corporate wish list disguised as a trade agreement. The question we need to ask is: ‘Do we really want to blindly approve an agreement devised by the likes of Walmart, Big Tobacco, and Chevron without even being able to amend it?’”
Electronic Frontier Foundation
“As long as the U.S. trade office treats corporate insiders as the only relevant voice in policymaking, as long as elected lawmakers are largely shut out, and as long as Internet users’ concerns are considered as an after-thought (if they are considered at all), the entire trade negotiation process is undemocratic and illegitimate,” said Mara Sutton, Global Policy Analyst at the EFF. “For the U.S. Trade Representative to ask for fast track authority against this backdrop is audacious, and for Congress to even consider it is irresponsible.”
Fight for the Future
“Decisions that affect our most basic rights should never be made in secret,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-director of Fight for the Future who initiated the StopFastTrack.com effort, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership would lead to a more expensive and censored Internet, and the Fast Track bill is nothing more than an anti-democratic attempt to ram it through Congress without proper debate or public scrutiny.”
“We oppose Fast Track because we want our government to follow the Constitution,” said Pamm Larry of LabelGMOs.org, “We believe in food sovereignty for all people and are taking a strong stand against corporate control of our food supply.”
MoveOn National TPP Organizing Team
"Trade - the instrument that drives the global economy - is arguably the most influential force in determining standards of living for people the world over," notes MoveOn Regional Organizer Elizabeth Warren, coordinator for the MoveOn National TPP Team. "Driving down wages hurts everyone. Our economy can't thrive when workers don't earn enough to buy things. Any responsible trade agreement should include a mandated living wage for workers in every country - to address the problem of trade deficits and level the playing field. But it can't happen unless Congress retains its power to review, invite public comment, and revise trade agreements before they vote on them," she said. "MoveOn councils rallied when we learned about TPP. We recognized that as written it would hand multinational corporations even more rights, and accelerate the global race to the bottom. Fast Track for the TPP would circumvent the normal legislative process, prevent Congress from making changes, and shut down public debate on a whole host of issues having a direct and lasting impact on our lives," she added. "Our representatives need to know that a vote for Fast Track is a vote against democracy itself– a vote that their constituents will surely remember this fall.
Organic Consumers Association
“Congress shouldn’t give President Obama fast-track trade promotion authority. Corporations like Monsanto are pushing the President to use secret, fast-tracked trade deals to force factory farming practices on the rest of the world, practices that include genetic engineering, treating poultry with chlorine and dosing animals with ractopamine,” said Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association. “GMO labels are on the trade deal hit list, too. In fact, ‘Mandatory Labeling of Foods Derived from Genetic Engineering’ is specifically listed in the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2013 Report on Technical Barriers to Trade. Over 17,000 OCA members have sent letters to Congress through our website.”
“We oppose Fast Track for the TPP because it’s an undemocratic agreement that threatens the open Internet,” said Erik Martin, general manager of reddit.
"Across the country, Sierra Club members and supporters are ready to stand up for responsible trade that doesn't threaten American jobs, our air and water, and our climate," said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director. “The Sierra Club strongly opposes fast track. This bill not only undermines our democracy, it puts American families and our future at risk."
The TPP has since its inception been kept in the shadows, negotiated without the public eye and out of sight from the general public. Sea Shepherd supports the importance of biodiversity and open consultative dialogue for any trade agreements,” said Omar Todd, CTO of Sea Shepherd, “The emphasis of these agreements must balance both economic and environmental priorities. Humanity’s lust for commercialisation and unbridled growth, at the expense of our life support system, may cause us to fall off the precipice as a species”
Groups from several TPP nations have banded together to call for a Fair Deal in the TPP. Over 128,000 people have called on world leaders to reject Internet censorship proposals in the TPP, with more signing on every day at https://openmedia.org/censorship
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.
About the Trans-Pacific Partnership:
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 18,000 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.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia
Internet governance expert says U.S. trying to strong-arm Canada into economically-damaging Internet censorship rules in international agreement. Source: OpenMedia.ca
Full text of the TPP’s Internet censorship chapter - source: Wikileaks
Detailed expert analysis of the leaked TPP draft can be found at: http://keionline.org/node/1825
In August 2013, OpenMedia and the Our Fair Deal Coalition launched an alternative process to the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, enabling citizens to have their say on shaping their digital future.
In May 2013, OpenMedia and Coalition partners sent TPP Trade Ministers a letter to demand a ‘Fair Deal’ on provisions that would restrict Internet use in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.
We also sent a message to new U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman by purchasing a hard-hitting Washington D.C. newspaper ad.
In December 2012, OpenMedia’s Steve Anderson took our message direct to TPP negotiators in Auckland. Read his full report from Auckland here.