Since the Senate passed Fast Track, a bill that would rush secret anti-user trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to approval by bypassing full debate, the fight now goes to the House of Representatives. The legislation (H.R. 1314) could go to the House floor for debate and a final vote as early as next week.
While TPP and TTIP proponents still lack the votes to pass the bill in the other congressional chamber, they're fiercely determined to get them. President Obama is personally calling each Congress member who's still on the fence on the issue, and is even offering special perks from the Oval Office in exchange for their vote. In the midst of this aggressive campaign to pass Fast Track, leading members of Congress have still not taken a public position on this controversial legislation.
Politico reports that House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, is the White House's "secret weapon" for its trade agenda. Even though she has voted down Fast Track in the past and has indicated that she would vote against it again, she still hasn't come out in strong opposition, all while being in a very critical position to lead undecided lawmakers from handing their authority over trade policy to the President.
Not only is she a House Leader, she represents San Francisco, a city that has long been committed to government transparency (and has itself voted against TPP and Fast Track). Her district rests right in the middle of the booming technology sector in the U.S.—an industry that continues to rely heavily on balanced copyright rules like fair use and other safeguards that are under serious threat from the TPP's restrictive copyright enforcement rules. She was one of the most vocal proponents of defending net neutrality this year, so she clearly understands the importance of keeping our digital platforms free and open.
That's why her constituents and Internet users across the country need to make sure she hears our concerns loud and clear. If Leader Pelosi were to come out against Fast Track today, that would be a strong signal for other House Democrats to follow her lead.
Our Meeting with Leader Pelosi's San Francisco District Office
Yesterday, EFF and a handful of our San Francisco-based members met with Leader Pelosi's Chief of Staff in her district office to convey our concerns about the TPP and Fast Track bill. We went around the table and talked about how the digital policy provisions in the TPP would harm our rights and our businesses in a range of ways.
Michael Kelly, a video game developer at Red Accent Studios, talked about how important fair use was to indie game developers. "I met with Rep. Pelosi's staff to encourage her to be a vocal opponent to granting Trade Promotion Authority to the TPP when it comes before the House this week," said Kelly. "The YouTube Renaissance of creativity and remixing that's birthed so many careers and entertained millions would be in jeopardy by the same people who tried to bring us SOPA and PIPA. We can't let that happen!" Another EFF member, Carl Noe, said "Those of us who participated [in the meeting] got a sense of how people are systematically excluded from the discussion of international trade. It's important for everyone."
We also handed them our letter from over 250 tech companies and digital rights organizations opposed to the TPP and Fast Track for containing threats to fair use, whistleblowers, and user safeguards in U.S. law. While major tech companies like Google may be in favor of Fast Track and trade agreements due to the "free flow of information" provisions, this letter shows how there are hundreds of small tech businesses that disagree with claims that these secret deals are a beneficial for small businesses or would work to promote digital innovation.
So if you are an Internet user in the U.S., please take a moment to contact your representative, tweet at Leader Pelosi and call her DC office (202-225-4965) to urge her to stand for users' rights and take a strong, public stance against the TPP Fast Track bill.