Australia signs Trans-Pacific Partnership

Australia signs Trans-Pacific Partnership

Negotiations of the free trade deal, which raised concerns around copyright laws and policing users’ online activity, have been officially settled

Australia, along with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, has signed the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which lays out the rules for trade and investment among the countries.

The TPP covers 40 per cent of the global economy, and will rid 98 per cent of trade tariffs among the countries that have signed the agreement – United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Mexico, Peru, and Chile.

The final TPP documents have not yet come to surface, but from leaked documents from Wikileaks in 2014 and 2013 the main issues raised were around copyright laws and policing online activity.

With copyright laws, there were concerns that US officials could dictate to other countries their laws and regulations relating to the TPP.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement that the final TPP negotiations “will not require any changes to Australia’s intellectual property laws or policies, whether in copyright, pharmaceutical patents or enforcement”.

Jon Lawrence from Electronic Frontiers Australia said there's a risk that the TPP might stop Australia from being able to change its copyright laws to keep them up-to-date with the times.

Last year, Electronic Frontiers Australia, iiNet and more than 70 other organisations signed an open letter that raised concerns that copyright-related proposals included in the TPP would force ISPs to police their customers' online activities.

"[It may] force service providers throughout the region to monitor and police their users' actions on the Internet, pass on automated takedown notices, block websites and disconnect Internet users," the letter stated.

Lawrence said there are also concerns around geoblocking, where the TPP may criminalise accessing content that is outside its allocated region.

"We understand that there may be something agreed to in this TPP agreement that is actually going to criminalise that behaviour. That's a really bad step backwards if that's true," he said.

"We just don't know until the text is released and there is no reason not to release it now, so they need to do that so we can start talking about what has actually been agreed to," he added.

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Tags online surveillancecopyrightTrans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

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