From: "Emma Pullman, SumOfUs.org" <email@example.com>
Date: Jun 27, 2012 2:25 PM
Subject: The worst treaty in history
To: "Daniel A. Stafford" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the back of a swanky San Diego hotel, corporate lobbyists are gathering next week to negotiate an ultra-secret trade deal that will empower corporations to sue our governments if they dare pass any laws that might infringe on profits.
If that's not hitting close enough to home, then check this out -- newly leaked secret documents show that if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) becomes law, you could be dragged to court and receive a large fine simply for clicking on the wrong link.
But here's the good news: We can actually stop this. The corporations are counting on ramming the treaty through as quickly and secretly as possible -- before the public and the media even start paying attention. That's why we're partnering with pro-internet organization OpenMedia.ca: If we speak up with a unified voice now, we can force participating governments to come clean.
Tell national leaders and trade representatives negotiating the TPP in secret that we won't let them ambush us with a hidden agenda to let corporations censor our internet, and gain more power over our lives.
The only reason that we know anything about these top-secret talks is because two chapters of the draft agreement were just leaked. Now, we know that drug companies will be able to stop generic medicine from being produced -- which means that a young girl with HIV will die because her family can't afford the medicine any more. And a foreign-owned oil company will be able to sue your democratically-elected government simply for strengthening environmental regulations that will threaten its profits.
But this treaty also threatens to impose dangerous censorship that would threaten the open foundation of the Internet. Service providers could be forced to collect and hand over our private data Internet users could be turned into criminals. Big media conglomerates would be given the power to fine us for our Internet use, remove online content--even entire websites--and cut off our Internet access completely.
Corporate lawyers are trying to avoid at all costs us knowing about the controversial provisions in the agreement, because it will draw criticism from citizens and businesses, making reaching an agreement more difficult. That's why we need a massive public outcry now to make sure that our leaders know that we're watching.
Thanks for making sure that people come before corporate profits,
--Emma, Kaytee, Taren and the rest of us
What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Who is participating?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, 11 countries are party to the negotiations including the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The U.S. joined the talks in November, 2009, and both Canada and Mexico will be taking part in the 13th round of negotiations that begin on July 2, 2012. By this time next year, Japan is expected to join. The Agreement is designed to be expandable to accommodate new members.
What provisions are in the treaty?
Since the text is currently top secret, there is no way to tell the full scope of the treaty, but two leaked chapters -- the Intellectual Property and Investment chapters -- give sobering glimpses into the treaty.
The agreement has been accused of being excessively restrictive, providing intellectual property restraints beyond those in other free trade agreements like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). In developing countries like Vietnam, TPP could even limit access to affordable medication, including generic drugs.
Under the TPP, corporations would gain an array of privileges:
- Rights to acquire land, natural resources, factories without government review
- Risks and costs of offshoring to low wage countries eliminated
- Special guaranteed "minimum standard of treatment" for relocating firms
- Compensation for loss of "expected future profits" from health, labor environmental, laws (indirect or "regulatory" takings compensation)
- Right to move capital without limits
- New rights cover vast definition of investment: intellectual property, permits, derivatives
- Ban performance requirements, domestic content rules. Absolute ban, not only when applied to investors from signatory countries
The TPP will impose a set of extreme foreign investor privileges and rights and their private enforcement through the notorious "investor-state" system. This system elevates individual corporations and investors to equal standing with each TPP signatory country's government- and above all of us citizens.
Under this regime, foreign investors can skirt domestic courts and laws, and sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their "expected future profits".
According to a leaked version of the TPP's Intellectual Property Rights chapter, the TPP would:
- Criminalize some everyday uses of the Internet,
- Force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards, and
- Give media conglomerates more power to send you fines in the mail, remove online content—including entire websites—and even terminate your access to the Internet.
Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Investment Text, Public Citizen.
What's Actually in the TPP?, Public Knowledge.
EFF Analysis of the TPM Provisions in the U.S. February 2011 Proposal for the TPP Intellectual Property Chapter, Electronic Frontier Foundation.