Everyone remembers SOPA, which triggered the largest online protest in the history of the internet. The Stop Online Piracy Act introduced in October 2011, wanted to implement a number of restrictive internet regulations, limiting the freedom of internet users. The backlash was enormous, sparking protests all over the US, and Europe. A video made by the hacktivist group Anonymous, shows these protests.
Now, instead of SOPA and ACTA we have the TPP or the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement being negotiated in secret by 14 countries. It will, however, have global reach. Through the courtesy of WikiLeaks, we know the treaty is meant to enforce "free trade", but, well, it doesn't do that. At least not to the extent which we would expect it too. The problem is that, at least when talking about the U.S, we have had free trade since the 1950's. So, what's up with all this "free trade" treaty if the U.S, and many other countries, already have free trade?
Instead of free trade, the TPP sets forth global negotiations which allow multinational corporations to manipulate currency, stock markets, and trade goods for capital which unlike 'free trade' suggests, is detrimental to the economy, benefiting only multinationals. For example, imagine a multinational being taxed in the U.S. The corporation does not like the tax because it's taking out of its gross profit. The TPP would allow such corporations to up and leave, and move to a country where it would not be so heavily taxed.
While it may behoove business to avoid tax in order to increase profits and scale their business, in the end it results in tax money flowing out of the economy. It's no secret that no one likes taxes. In practice, however, tax avoidance allows the rich along to leave taxes for middle-income earners, making harder on the middle class. The richest 400 Americans booked 26% of their incomes as salaries/wages in 1992, with 36% recorded as capital gains. By 2007, only 6% was recorded as wages/salaries, while 66% was recorded as capital gains. (IRS data, 2010). It's also no secret that Apple has been evading billions of dollars in taxes through a web of subsidiaries based in other countries. To continue allowing corporations to evade tax will eventually stagnate the economy along with living standards. In addition, it hinders startups from competing with larger corporations. Most startups do not have the resources to evade taxes, while corprations do, making it harder for small business' to compete.
So how does this effect the internet? Surprisingly similiarly to SOPA.
Intellectual Property Regulation
The TPP plans to further restrict copyright law, complicating the controversy surrounding the DMCA, fair use, and internet piracy. This makes it harder for content creators to create the content they want to share without being scrutinized by people who may not want such content on the internet.
The TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors, only the politicians designated to negotiate the treaty are allowed to analyze and look at it. This removes the factor of public opinion, media attention, and consequently and criticism the treaty would receive as a result. This means that when the treaty is finally released to the public, it will already be a 'final' version, making it difficult to sway political opinion to change parts of the treaty.
Freedom of Speech
Complication of copyright laws means internet users, specifically, will be further limited in what they are able to write and publish publically on the internet. Risks of even potential copyright liability would prevent online services and ISP's from hosting and transmitting user-generated content.
Not only does this limit and make difficult content generated by the everyday user, but it hinders innovation. The TPP would make it even more difficult for small internet start-ups to operate, since even an insignificant copyright infringement could take down an entire business. These complications, then, becomes less about copyright infringement and more about wiping out competition which could threaten already established corporations.
Many have been calling the TPP "SOPA on Steroids". Is this another internet treaty to rally the internet army? Put your own thoughts and opinions in the comments section.
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