David Levine authors article for Slate on trade and secrecy
Elon Law professor David Levine calls for more transparency among negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in a Slate.com article, published July 30.
In the Slate article, “The Most Important Trade Agreement That We Know Nothing About,” Levine discusses concerns with the amount of secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations.
Levine’s article comes after his attendance at the thirteenth round of TPP negotiations in San Diego earlier this month. Even as one of the few registered stakeholders given the opportunity to speak with TPP negotiators, Levine had little information about what was actually going on.
“The only thing that I knew with certainty was that I didn’t know much about what was happening in the TPP negotiations, and therefore I couldn’t offer much in the way of substantive questions and input, which was the point that I wanted to make to the negotiators,” Levine says, in the article. “Other than ‘cleared advisors’ — primarily industry representatives — no one outside the inner circle knows what is currently being negotiated in TPP. Most members of Congress do not even know what is in TPP.”
In fact, Levine writes that the most recent version of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter is a leaked version from Feb. 10, 2011. Based on this information, if TPP is enacted it could require serious changes to U.S. law by blocking access to information in the interest of preventing intellectual property infringement, or piracy.
“The owner of the copyright in a song or movie could use a ‘technological protection measure’— what are often called ‘digital locks‘ — to prevent your access to it, even for educational purposes, and regardless of whether the owner had the legal right to do so,” Levine says, in the article. “Your very ability to read this article, with hyperlinks in it, could be affected by TPP. So, too, might your access to works currently in the public domain and available free of charge.”
However, with so little information available, even these possible legal issues are highly speculative, Levine writes.
“This same closed-door mentality that killed the Stop Online Piracy Act and has led to the near death of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It likely will kill TPP if its negotiations do not change course,” Levine says, in the article. “At a minimum, it will lead to an imbalanced and poorly drafted law.”
Slate.com is an online magazine with average online traffic of 3,810,000 unique monthly visitors according to Nielson Media Research, 2010.
By Courtney Roller L'13