Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) is urging trade ministers not to sign the final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The signing is due to take place on February 4 in New Zealand.
The TPP lays out the rules for trade and investment among 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Australia, and the United States.
With copyright laws, there are concerns that US officials could dictate to other countries their laws and regulations relating to the TPP. For example, Internet service providers (ISPs) would be asked to block websites without a court ruling.
“Here’s the bottom line: the TPP will lock Internet users into a digital stone age, making us forever beholden to rules set by media giants scared of the potential of new technologies. It will curtail our freedom of expression and censor the Web,” said EFA’s Jon Lawrence.
EFA has shown its support for the ‘Do Not Sign The TPP!’ online letter that opposes the agreement and petitions against it.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher. If the TPP becomes law, it will censor the Web and criminalise our online activities,” Lawrence said.
In October 2015, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Australia’s signing of the TPP. He said at the time that it “will not require any changes to Australia’s intellectual property laws or policies, whether in copyright, pharmaceutical patents or enforcement”.
However, the final TPP documents revealed that local ISPs would be forced to block access to content that the US has deemed infringes on copyright.
Bans on circumventing digital locks or digital rights management is also part of the TPP, which limits to ability to modify content and devices or turning content into accessible formats.