February 5, 2013 | By Maira Sutton

EFF Joins 24 US Civil Society Groups in Demanding a Baseline of Transparency in TPP Negotiations

With every coming round of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade agreement that carries intellectual property provisions that could have hugely harmful consequences for the Internet and our digital rights—the Office of the US Trade Representative has continually whittled away at any remaining opportunity for the public to have input into the drafting process. The TPP has been under negotiation for three years and the opaqueness has only worsened.

EFF has therefore joined a diverse coalition of civil society organizations and public stakeholders to send a letter to Barbara Weisel, the lead US trade negotiator for the TPP, to clearly outline our baseline demands for transparency and increased civil society engagement in these secretive backdoor meetings.

Our demands include that the schedule of the meetings be published well in advance to allow ample time for civil society representatives to organize travel and accomodations near the negotiation venue; that we be granted access to the venue itself (which we were denied in the last round in Auckland, New Zealand); and that a requirement be made to hold stakeholder presentations and tabling events at a time when official negotiations are not in session. These "stakeholder" events are meant to be brief opportunities for us to engage directly with the trade delegates over our concerns about the agreement, but their sparse attendance can be partially attributed to the fact that they have been scheduled concurrently with other official meetings or held on delegates' single day off.

In addition to these proposals, we strongly reiterate that the drafts of the TPP text and US trade objectives be made public. Under the trade advisory system, more than 600 official advisors, mainly representing business interests, have direct access to the US proposals by signing a non-disclosure agreement. This continues to enable unbalanced, corporate influence over the terms of the TPP. As civil society, we need to be able to know what is going on in these secretive negotiations to ensure that they do not lead to binding international rules that violate our digital rights. You can read the entirety of the letter here.

If you live in the United States, join EFF and more than 27,000 people in sending a message to Congress members to bring transparency to these negotiations once and for all:

Take Action TPP

You can also check out other ways of taking action here.

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