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Calling for an Open and International Dialogue for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Negotiations

09 July 2012

The Internet Society welcomes the European Parliament’s rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as a strong message in favour of open and transparent processes in negotiations dealing with policy issues pertaining to the Internet. The vote followed widespread protests throughout Europe, with Internet campaigners claiming that it posed threats to online freedoms. ACTA was originally meant to address, among other things, the issue of online piracy and the sale or promotion of counterfeit goods via the Internet.

At the same time, the Internet Society expresses its concern over the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which aim to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The thirteenth (13th) round of negotiations is taking place in San Diego, California, between July 2 -10, 2012.

As no documents have been officially made public, the Internet Society cannot express, at this point, an opinion on the Agreement’s substantive provisions. However, since preliminary reports indicate that the TPPA also seeks to address issues related to the Internet, the Internet Society calls for an open and inclusive process in line with the principles adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognizing that public issues pertaining to the Internet should be addressed in an open, inclusive, and participatory process. Also, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) adopted principles for Internet policy-making, which similarly call for multistakeholder cooperation.

The Internet Society notes that while some room for (limited) participation has been provided, the various stakeholders have not been allowed to actively participate in the TPPA’s policy discussions as is envisaged by the WSIS and OECD principles.

The Internet Society believes that the overall level of transparency surrounding the TPPA negotiations should be more robust. Deciding how to appropriately address intellectual property rights (IPR) in an online environment is a relevant issue for many stakeholders, not just governments. We believe that the combined insight and experience of all Internet Governance stakeholders can provide adequate and well-balanced solutions to some of the issues the TPPA seeks to address. The Internet Society would be happy to contribute to the ongoing TPPA policy discussions.