EFF has been monitoring governmental proposals for national identification schemes, with an eye toward evaluating the privacy implications of these new systems. In Japan, where an existing program issues unique ID numbers to citizens at the municipal level and shares information on a national network, a bill is under consideration that would create a new ID framework. Submitted by the Japanese Cabinet in February of 2012, the “My Number Bill” would issue new unique ID numbers to participating citizens. The stated purpose is to streamline information sharing between governmental bodies administering tax, social security, and disaster mitigation programs. If the law is enacted, the My Number system will begin operating in 2015.
So far, there are no signs that Japan's government will follow the increasingly common trend of requiring citizens to submit biometric data, such as fingerprint or iris scans, in order to enroll. Nevertheless, it’s clear that data submitted by participating citizens will be subject to greater information sharing than under the prior system. This planned expansion gives rise to serious questions about whether individuals’ personally identifiable information will be adequately protected. While the existing ID framework is highly controversial due to privacy concerns, this proposal will disseminate personal data farther and wider, making it even harder for individuals to exercise control their own information.
Japan’s current unique ID system
Under the mandatory Basic Resident Register program, every Japanese citizen must provide his or her name, birthdate, gender and physical address to municipal governments. With the implementation of the Resident Basic Register Network System in 2002, these four types of information began to be fed into a nationwide computer network, the Juki-net, set up to share data between government agencies. The new system combined the resident registration databases of 3,200 municipal governments, and assigned every Japanese citizen an ID number.  Under this framework, citizens may also opt to obtain ID cards, which contain integrated circuit chips.
When an individual moves to a new city, or changes his or her name following marriage or divorce, the informational updates are logged in the Juki-net. The practice of logging such updates afforded government for the first time the ability to instantly obtain information about personal histories and to track individuals' movements over the course of multiple years, according to the analysis of Midori Osagawara, a former journalist who reported on the Juki-net for national Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. “In the past, [a government] official could barely track [an individuals’] data by looking at the paper-based Resident Basic Registry, because the registry was discretely stored in the municipal office,” Osagawara noted in her thesis on Japan ID systems. “By removing the constraint of a stored location, the government could transcend the constraint of time, too. Now, personal data on Juki-net are automatically updated with references to the past.”
The Juki-net became a major source of controversy in Japan when it was launched. A newspaper opinion poll conducted just before implementation found that 86 percent of respondents were afraid of data leakage or improper use of information, while 76 percent thought implementation should be postponed. Several lawsuits challenged the new system, charging that it constituted a violation of the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution. Protests were mounted as well; 70 municipal assemblies and 29 mayors passed resolutions demanding the government postpone Juki-net’s implementation. In one city, whose mayor made it possible for citizens to opt out, 839,539 citizens went to city offices to register for non-participation. Following a Supreme Court ruling that found Juki-net to be constitutional, the citizens who’d requested to opt out were enrolled anyway.
In 2008, the Juki-net withstood a legal challenge when Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional, reversing a lower court’s 2006 ruling that the system violated privacy rights guaranteed by Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution.
Plaintiffs had argued that Juki-net illegally subjected citizens to risks of personal information leakage, and that it infringed upon rights guaranteed under Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution, which states, “all of the people shall be respected as individuals. Their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness shall, to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare, be the supreme consideration in legislation and in other governmental affairs.” Yet the court rejected these arguments when it found the Juki-net system did not violate Article 13.
The court determined that there was a low risk that information could be leaked due to the technical system design, and highlighted the absence of a centralized database that would enable consolidated control over personal information by any single governmental agency. It also found that the nature of the collected data was not highly confidential.
While Japan’s decision to prevent the creation a centralized database places it ahead of the curve on privacy when compared with many other countries that have implemented national ID systems, it’s important to remember that any digital collection of personal information opens the door to potential data breaches. Meanwhile, the court’s assertion that the data is not of a highly sensitive nature fails to take into consideration the fact that reliable inferences can be made about highly sensitive data by building upon multiple categories of non-sensitive data. For instance, Carnegie Mellon researchers Alessandro Acquisti and Ralph Gross published an article in 2009 demonstrating how social security numbers could be easily predicted by combining various kinds of widely available data, such as individuals’ birthdates and places of birth.
Expanded information sharing
The My Number Bill would essentially take the Juki-Net a step farther, by generating new unique ID numbers and allowing information sharing between the agencies that administer social security, tax, and disaster mitigation programs. The newly generated unique ID numbers would be used as a "key" to link records of individuals' income and payments, and benefits for pensions, health care and other services.
The My Number Bill also seems to be envisioned as a first step toward an increasingly networked system that would integrate highly sensitive information and could be opened up to private-sector use.
The bill was drafted based on a policy outline that won Cabinet approval in June of 2011. The policy outline hints at plans to formulate special statutes around highly confidential personal information, such as medical records. It also describes the possibility of linking unique ID numbers to medical data for research purposes, as long as patients’ anonymity is maintained. Yet this sets a dangerous precedent; researchers Arvind Naravayan and Vitaly Shmatikov, among others, have shown that attempts at “de-identification” are not always effective.
Under the bill, the lack of a centralized database is designed to prevent single governmental body from storing personal information, and an independent monitoring body will be created to ensure personal information is adequately protected. Nevertheless, these measures against data leakage can never be guaranteed to be 100 percent effective.
According to the policy framework paper, the program would be launched in January 2015 in the spheres of social security, tax, and disaster mitigation; by around 2018, the government will evaluate progress and consider expansion to other areas, such as the medical field. Taking into account political controversy currently surrounding Japan’s consumption tax increase, which is tangentially linked to the unique ID proposal since the program aims to streamline tax administration and processing, it’s still too early to say whether the My Number Bill will win approval.
Reactions from the Japanese public
The Japan Federation Bar Association has publicly opposed the My Number Bill, criticizing the program for failing to respect the right to control one’s own personal information.
A number of nongovernmental organizations, such as Japan’s Privacy Action and the Anti Ju-Ki Net Association, also came out against Japan’s proposed unique ID system in public comments submitted to the Cabinet Secretariat in July and August of 2011. They argued that the national ID isn’t really necessary to reform social security and tax programs, and that human rights and personal privacy will be jeopardized no matter what, since it’s impossible to guarantee 100 percent safety when it comes to technology and the potential for human error or active exploitation. Others argued that statutory protections of personal information are ineffective, and that not enough consideration has been given to the shortcomings of the Ju-ki Net. Some NGOs expressed doubts that the ID system would protect citizens’ rights, and called for a cost-benefit analysis prior to implementing the new program.
The Japan Medical Association has voiced concerns about the idea of linking unique ID numbers to medical records. At a press conference in March, the organization noted that highly sensitive patient information could be leaked.
Osagawara, the Japanese journalist and surveillance scholar, offered a sharp critique of the Juki-net, focusing on the expanding requirements for information sharing. “Even in a short-term observation, Juki-net’s development shows how a computer network inevitably expands for data sharing,” she wrote. “Once it is established, it increases the scope of data, engages in multiple tasks, and escapes from legal constraints and democratic transparency.”
We have concerns that the unique ID proposal seems to be moving Japan in a worrisome direction of expanded information sharing that is more sensitive in nature. As we have seen in places such as the UK, where leaks of everything from medical histories to criminal records were attributed to the very government agents entrusted with overseeing a database administered by the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions, serious challenges arise when digital records of sensitive personal information are created and incorporated into a national network.
DHS’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released a report (pdf) detailing multiple problems with the drones used to patrol US borders. This report, combined with the Federal Aviation Administration’s lack of openness about its drone authorization program and failure to disclose the true number of entities flying drones, shows that the federal government is moving far too quickly in its plans to dramatically expand the number of domestic drones flying in the United States over the next few years.
The DHS OIG report, which reviewed the drone program run by Customs & Border Protection (CBP), noted several serious problems with the program, including lack of appropriate equipment and staff to fly the drones safely and lack of processes or procedures to prioritize requests for drone flights. This is especially troubling, given the agency has been flying drones since 2004.
CBP currently has nine unarmed Predator drones in its arsenal, each purchased at a cost of $18 million dollars. The drones cost $3,000 per hour to fly, and, according to the OIG report, the agency spent over $55 million (pdf) to operate and maintain the drones between 2006 and 2011. Despite these costs, CBP never made a specific budget request to Congress for the funds, and has thus far failed to seek compensation from the other federal and state agencies it loans its drones to. Instead, the agency diverted $25 million from other programs to cover these costs.
This lack of adequate planning and oversight is concerning, given the government’s push to quickly expand the number of domestic drone flights (see the timeline1above and linked) and the little we know so far about drones currently flying in the US. As we’ve written previously, despite our FOIA lawsuit and significant public interest, the FAA has yet to release any information on the number and types of drones public entities are currently flying in the United States. On top of this, the FAA has failed to account for the discrepancies between the numbers of public entities flying drones as listed on a July 2011 “Fact Sheet” (pdf) (90 entities) and the list it released to EFF this April (60 entities).2
Despite all this, there are a few bright spots in the recent drone news. Congressman Austin Scott from Georgia just introduced a bill before the House that’s designed to “protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion” from drones. The bill would require federal agents to get a warrant before using a “drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a regulation.” Senator Rand Paul introduced a similar bill in the Senate. While both bills have some drawbacks (the Scott bill doesn’t appear to apply to state or local law enforcement, and both bills seem to have large loopholes for border searches and terrorist-related investigations), they are good first steps toward regulating police use of drones.
If you’re concerned about the lack of transparency and adequate legal procedures for drone use in your area, we encourage you to support Congressional efforts to develop a law that would place restrictions on the use of drones for surveillance. We also encourage you to help EFF find out how your local police agency is using drones by contacting your local agency and reporting back to us. We will continue to monitor and report on domestic drone flights here.
2. The FAA later quietly updated this list on its website (pdf). According to a discussion with the FAA’s attorney, the FAA employee who created the “Fact Sheet” no longer works at the agency, so the FAA doesn’t really know how he arrived at the numbers on the Sheet. The attorney later clarified that “some agencies on the list released to EFF have ‘sub-layers’ that were counted as separate proponents for purposes of the Fact Sheet,” however, the FAA was tightlipped on what these “sub-layers” were.
Nominations are now open for EFF’s 21st Annual Pioneer Awards, to be presented this Fall in San Francisco. EFF established the Pioneer Awards in 1992 to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. Nominations will be open until Monday, August 6th. Nominate the next Pioneer Award winner today!
What does it take to be a Pioneer? There are no specific categories, but nominees must have contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications. Their contributions may be technical, social, legal, academic, economic or cultural. This year’s pioneers will join an esteemed group of past award winners that includes World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, security expert Bruce Schneier, open source advocate Mozilla Foundation, and privacy rights activist Beth Givens.
Remember, nominations are due no later than midnight on Monday, August 6th! And after you nominate your favorites, we hope you will join us on September 20th in San Francisco to celebrate the work of this year’s winners. Tickets are available now.
With weeks left to go on our third annual fundraising contest, supporters have already raised over $4,000 in donations to help support EFF and the Coders’ Rights Project! Our thanks to The Holy Handgrenades leading the pack at $1,410.78, with last year’s Grand Prize Winners InfoSec Daily Podcast (ISDPodcast) at $801, followed closely by the dc404 crew at $675. You’re doing great!EFF’s annual D(EFF)CONtest helps fund tireless legal defense, activism, counseling, and community education for professional security researchers and tinkerers alike. Through these donor-supported efforts, EFF stands behind everyone who values knowledge and the freedom to innovate.
You can help by donating to EFF through one of the D(EFF)CONtest teams listed below, or by starting your own team today! Fabulous prizes await the winners including a weekend stay at the Rio Hotel and Casino, DEF CON Human Badges, Ninja Party badges, passes to theSummit party, the iSEC Partners party, and EFF swag including our exclusive DEF CON 20 Script Kitty T-Shirt. Contestants unlock a Script Kitty Trophy at every $250 and one of the new shirts at $500!
So if you can't go to Las Vegas this summer, get your limited edition DEF CON 20 Script Kitty T-Shirt online when you join or renew at the Gold Membership Level or higher. You can even reserve a spot at theSummit party with Vegas 2.0 and a host of security research luminaries. Start by visiting one of the D(EFF)CONtest team pages and clicking the "Donate Now" button:
Thanks, everyone! Find more detalis about the contest at https://www.eff.org/DEFCON or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The D(EFF)CONtest ends after 11:59:59 PDT on July 4, 2012, so there is still time to sign up and win. Go 1337 or Go Home!
Syrian blogger and human rights activist Razan Ghazzawi, who in December was charged with, among other things, "weakening national sentiment" for her work with the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, received the Front Line Defenders' human rights defenders at risk award last week. EFF extends our utmost congratulations to Ghazzawi, whose work we have defended.
Ghazzawi was first arrested in December, then released along with other members of her organization, only to be re-arrested in a raid on their office in February (and released again shortly after). She still faces charges of "possessing prohibited materials with the intent to disseminate them."
Dlshad Othman of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression accepted the award in Dublin on behalf of Ghazzawi, who remains in Syria. A video compilation of Ghazzawi is available here.
Internet shutdowns, content filtering, arrests of bloggers, and online surveillance in North Africa have been headline news for the past year and a half, but internet issues in the rest of the African continent haven’t received quite as much press coverage. This silence is partly because there is simply less internet penetration south of the Sahara, but there may also be a paralyzing current of opinion whereby stories that highlight human rights issues or a lack of democracy in the region are either dismissed as old news or written off as paternalistic.
Ethiopia sometimes gets particularly little coverage in Western or international media because the political situation there is not nearly as dramatic as it is in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The government is nominally structured as a parliamentary democracy and it has good relations with the United States and Europe. Still, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front tightly controls the country’s electoral politics and media representation.
Internet censorship and content filtering are well-established in Ethiopia. The state owns and manages the country’s sole Internet service provider, Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (Ethio-Telcom). While Ethiopian Internet penetration is only about 1%, there is still a vibrant, tightly-knit community of bloggers whose websites, blogs, and Facebook pages have been blocked by the government. The blocks themselves look innocuous to Ethiopian Internet users, because the browser will simply notify users that the server request has timed out.
This error-message block is similar to what users have experienced in China when trying to access censored websites or use restricted search terms. It figures, then, that the Ethiopian and Chinese governments have conducted joint workshops on “mass media institution” management and Internet management. Inexpensive Chinese technology has also replaced American technology for building Ethiopian Internet infrastructure.
EFF recently reported on a new Telecom Service Infringement Law that includes explicit content-filtering provisions that protect “national security.” The law criminalizes online speech that may be construed as defamatory or terrorist, and holds the website or account owner liable even if the speech is posted as a comment by a third party on their website. These speech-chilling stipulations are hidden deep within a licensing bill that would, on the surface, seem to simply clarify Ethio-Telecom’s power to regulate Internet services such as VoIP.
Aggressive content regulation through secret filtering and legal restrictions is just the beginning of Ethiopia’s draconian Internet policy. Ethio-Telecom has recently begun deep packet inspection of all Internet traffic in the country. Engineers at the Tor Project discovered this when Tor stopped working in Ethiopia weeks ago. They determined that the Internet service provider had figured out how to fingerprint and subsequently block Tor requests encrypted through TLS. Bridge-configuration, the ordinary way to get around Tor blocks in other countries, failed to work in Ethiopia until a workaround was subsequently developed. An engineer at Tor later hypothesized, “My guess is that they are only blocking Tor because whatever device (probably from an outside firm) they have came with a block-Tor-plugin.” At this time, the only other countries that actively block access to Tor are China and Iran.
Why does Ethiopia keep company with some of the most restrictive Internet regimes in the world if the country has so little connectivity and few users? The country’s Internet policy continues to develop in the broader context of an equally restrictive press freedom environment. During the last general election in 2005, many journalists, election observers, and opposition party leaders were detained. UNESCO hosted a World Press Freedom Day event in Addis Ababa, the national capital, about a year ago. Ironically, the government forcibly replaced several independent journalists on the agenda with pro-government speakers.
Like the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan, the Ethiopian government may be ratcheting up its Internet censorship regime in response to fears sparked by the Arab Spring. EFF will continue to keep a close eye on development as politically sensitive milestones, such as the Ethiopia’s general election, near.
Since last month, when EFF released a list of the sixty-odd public agencies that have already received from the FAA approval to fly domestic drones, the issue of drone surveillance has reached front and center in many Americans’ mind. Yet barely any information is known about what law enforcement agencies plan to do with these unmanned flying vehicles. So we want your help to gather this information into one place.
The groups listed by the FAA included about two dozen local police agencies, but we expect this number to grow rapidly in the coming weeks and months. In February, Congress passed a bill mandating the FAA authorize drones to public agencies if they can prove they can fly them safely. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security, which was already handing out grants to local law enforcement agencies, announced a program to further "facilitate and accelerate the adoption" of drones by local police agencies. In addition, last month the FAA announced it had established new (though undisclosed) procedures to allow more law enforcement agencies quicker access to fly drones.
The $4 million Air-based Technologies Program, which will test and evaluate small, unmanned aircraft systems, is designed to be a "middleman" between drone manufacturers and first-responder agencies "before they jump into the pool," said John Appleby, a manager in the DHS Science and Technology Directorate's division of borders and maritime security.
This is, or will become, a controversy all over the United States. From Seattle to Miami, Tennessee to Atlanta, and everywhere in between, local towns will soon grapple over the privacy dangers drones will create.
Given Congress’ inaction on privacy issues, and the fact that the FAA has never regulated privacy issues, we believe activism at the local level is the best way to stop drone surveillance.
What you can do
The FAA has so far not released any information on which model of drone or how many drones each public entity flies. We also don't have much information on the type of data these drones will collect. So we need to find this information out.
We've made a simple form for the questions we want these police agencies to answer. We need you to call your local police department and ask them these questions. Check your local police department's website for the "Public Inquiries" or "Community Relations" contact, and call or e-mail them these questions. Make sure to let us know your Twitter handle if you'd like us to tweet you a thank you from the @EFF Twitter feed.
This is just the first step. Once we've collected the data, we will release it and tell you how you can contact your local municipal government to demand that they ban law enforcement drones or install robust privacy safeguards that will protect citizens from unwanted—and unconstitutional—surveillance.
As the U.S. and European consumer organizations met with intellectual property (IP) and trade agencies last week, interactions with state agency representatives over U.S. IP policies helped to further expose some underlying flaws in state policy approaches regulating global IP enforcement. It is clear that IP/trade agencies’ biased understanding of what constitutes a “stakeholder” and a “key interest” in agreements like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), as well as their unfounded high valuation of what they call “IP-intensive” industries, are some of the problems that underlie the U.S. global IP enforcement agenda.
EFF is a member of the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), a forum for U.S. and EU consumer rights organizations to meet and develop joint policy recommendations to the U.S. government and the European Union that advance consumer protections. Since 1998, over 70 member organizations have regularly released resolutions and statements of recommendations on issues covering food, information society, intellectual property, and transnational trade.
From June 4 to 6, the TACD met in Washington, D.C. to discuss new issues and future resolutions, and to meet with the U.S. and EU delegates to address policy recommendations that they have forwarded to state agencies. The focus of Tuesday afternoon was U.S. intellectual property policies. It remains clear that the U.S. is committed to secretly negotiating trade agreements that would extend restrictive regulation over the Internet. Given that this was the first meeting since ACTA had been signed in October 2011, this was a significantly pertinent issue.
A keynote speech by Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), set the tone for the rest of the afternoon’s discussions. She again and again emphasized the importance of “multi-stakeholder input” and the necessity to increase transparency and opportunities for “public comment” during meetings over trans-Atlantic trade policies. Hopefully, she is referring to a process of negotiation that truly takes broad public interest into account: One that is inclusive of all relevant stakeholders, such as civil society, the private sector, as well as the technical community itself. If governments and companies are the only ones invited to the negotiating table to discuss Internet and IP policies, the process can hardly be called “multi-stakeholder.”
In the Q&A following her speech, a member of the TACD questioned the USTR’s true commitment to transparency in light of the negotiations over almost all recent bilateral and regional trade agreements (such as ACTA) that have excluded civil society. In response, the USTR spokesperson insisted that they have been transparent, claiming that they were “going to stakeholders” to determine what their issues were. They then claimed that “negotiating in public” prevents governments and “stakeholders” from putting all their interests on the table in a way that would compromise the agreement. Given that civil society has mostly been excluded from the negotiating table, their definition of a stakeholder could strictly be referring to private industry interests.
At the plenary session following this keynote, the Chief Economist from the U.S. Patent Trade Office (USPTO) were joined by two civil society members of TACD and an economics scholar at a panel to discuss a recent publication called the Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus. In March 2010, the USPTO established the Office of the Chief Economist, tasked with assessing the direct impacts of intellectual property policy on the U.S. economy. This report was the first substantial paper that it produced, and it purportedly “examines both the important trends and economic characteristics of these highly IP- intensive industries and their meaningful contributions to the U.S. economy.” The USPTO representative claimed that this report was still “preliminary,” heavily emphasizing that this was not a “policy recommendation.”
Even so, this report has been widely cited by copyright and IP maximalists in arguing for more restrictive copyright policies because they claim the report definitively demonstrates how essential IP-protected industries are to the U.S. economy. Knowledge Economy International (KEI) excellently outlines some of the gaping flaws in this report. KEI asserts that the USPTO defines any “IP-intensive” job to cover anything that remotely benefits from copyright, patent, or a trademark. Under this definition, a bagger at a grocery store, a car mechanic, or even a bank teller could be deemed a job that is protected by IP. Such bloated economic figures seems to bolster the claim that IP must be protected above all interests because it is deemed such a integral part of the economy.
Following this panel session, TACD members met with U.S. and European Union government representatives to discuss concerns over IP policies. During discussions, the U.S. representatives emphasized the need to protect intellectual property interests, citing to the aforementioned misleading report on IP and the economy, claiming that the USPTO’s report definitively proves how “IP-intensive” jobs, and therefore IP-intensive industries, need prioritized policy protection. They went on to say that agreements like ACTA enable “better” enforcement of IP, and suggested that such agreements protect and even create more jobs. Moreover, they claimed that ACTA is much more transparent “relative to other trade agreements” and that opposition to the agreement is all based on unfounded rhetoric. Finally, the U.S. side addressed SOPA and PIPA, stating that these bills are not truly dead, and that some form of legislation must be passed to address the ongoing problem of “online piracy.”
In response, TACD members went around the table and brought up their issues with ACTA and other mechanisms enabling restrictive copyright enforcement. These comments mainly addressed the exclusion of civil society participation, as well as the collateral damage its IP policies would inflict through its restrictive enforcement measures. Below are some of the topics discussed:
When asked that would happen to ACTA if the EU Parliament were to vote to reject the agreement, the U.S. representatives did not give a definitive answer. They claimed vaguely that counterfeiting is a global issue and that it would not necessarily have to involve the EU, concluding that they are “still looking into it.”
One of the most threatening provisions of ACTA is one that enables the creation of an independent committee that would oversee implementation and enforcement of the agreement in each of the signatory countries. The concern is that the members of this committee would not be democratically elected and that the trend of secrecy will continue on through this venue. A consumer rights group representative asked whether they had set any of the rules and plans for this committee. Interestingly, the U.S. representatives claimed that there have been no discussions about this ACTA committee.
Considering the complete secrecy over the negotiations, one consumer group representative asked the U.S. federal agencies what aspect of the agreement they were worried about being seen and what kinds of interests were they protecting in maintaining such confidentiality. The answer and explanation was that if versions of the agreement had been publicly available, “key interests” would have created expectations about their desired provisions being adopted in ACTA; and that it would be problematic for these interests if their demands had to be abandoned in the final version of the agreement for the sake of compromise and resolution. Another consumer rights advocate challenged them and said that these key players, such as private industry, already did know what was carried within this agreement anyway. The TACD member representative asserted that the public’s ability to see the content of this agreement was vastly more important than the negotiating flexibility that would be derived from keeping it secret
The annual TACD meeting is an important venue for civil society members to attend and directly communicate IP and Internet policy concerns with federal agency representatives. On several occasions, TACD members demanded explanations on how confidentiality is consistent with any notion of democratic rulemaking. However, U.S. federal agency representatives continued to repeat the same dubious justifications to legitimize the exclusion of civil society from international trade and IP policies. It continues to be clear that government agencies do not grasp the true meaning of transparency. Moreover, without proper honest assessments of the impact and side effects of IP protections on the society and economy, the development of pragmatic IP policy will never be possible.