For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a "trade deal" that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world's biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty.
All that time, activists have dogged the TPP process, showing up uninvited, publishing and analyzing leaked TPP drafts, making sure that politicians who supported TPP (sight unseen!) were held to account at each election cycle.
It was inevitable that eventually, negotiators would call it a day and declare the TPP "finalized" and send a secret draft back to all the member-states' legislatures to be passed without public review. Today, that happened.
If this sounds familiar, it's because it happened once before, with ACTA, another secret treaty that was TPP 1.0. Like TPP, ACTA eventually went back to member-states. But then a funny thing happened: the people rose up. Across the US and Europe, people took to the streets, worked the phones, wrote letters. The normally boring business of the technicalities of law — a death-sentence for any kind of public interest — was overruled by the easiest-to-understand of points: if ACTA is so great, why did they have to keep it a secret?
It's time for the ACTA fight, 2.0. It's time to rise up against the adoption of TPP.
In the US, Congress granted the Obama administration "fast track" authority, giving it the ability to pass TPP without any substantial debate and without hope of revision, so long as it does so within 90 days. That means that any delay of 90 days or more will probably kill TPP. What were you planning on doing for the next three months? I know what I'll be doing:
Despite all of Fast Track's faults, it imposed on the White House a timeline for it to finalize, sign, and ratify agreements that uses this expedited trade approval mechanism. This includes a mandate that at a minimum, a 90-day notice period must be given before the President signs the agreement. Thirty days after that notice the text must be posted publicly online—so there's still about a month when the U.S. trade officials can claim to have a final text and give notice, but not really have a text. President Obama will give a notice to Congress in order to get the clock running on these Fast Track requirements. If so, the White House will be required by law to publish the final text publicly, online in 30 days. A failure to do so could be a violation of this Fast Track-mandated timeline. (More detailed analysis on this timeline can be found on Public Citizen's website.)
As we continue to fight this toxic, corporate-captured trade deal, we need to remember this fact: laws made in secret, with no public oversight or input, are illegitimate. If we're to defend one of the fundamental pillars of modern government, that law should transparently reflect the will of the people, we need to fight back against an agreement that so flagrantly disregards the democratic process.
We will soon see what's actually in this agreement. At long last, the White House won't be able to hide behind the secrecy. And as long as there remains any threat to the Internet and our rights online, EFF, alongside a massive coalition of public interest organizations, will be mobilizing to kill this agreement dead once and for all.
Trade Officials Announce Conclusion of TPP—Now the Real Fight Begins