Sunday, June 12, 2016

Google Comes Down On The Wrong Side Of The TPP

This is extremely unfortunate, but not surprising. Google has made some noise sounding supportive of the TPP over the past year or so, and now it's put out a blog post strongly supporting the agreement, and claiming that it's good for intellectual property and the internet. The company is wrong. The statement is right about a big problem on the internet -- the growing restrictions and limitations on the internet in different jurisdictions:

But Internet restrictions -- like censorship, site-blocking, and forced local storage of data -- threaten the Internet’s open architecture. This can seriously harm established businesses, startups trying to reach a global audience, and Internet users seeking to communicate and collaborate across national borders.

Yes, absolutely. And the TPP only tackles a tiny part of that -- and in some ways makes other aspects worse. But that's not what Google says. Instead, it misrepresents what the TPP really does. The post is correct about the issue of cross-border data flows and localization -- and I agree that these are good things -- but they're small parts of an agreement that has so many other problems:

The Internet has revolutionized how people can share and access information, and the TPP promotes the free flow of information in ways that are unprecedented for a binding international agreement. The TPP requires the 12 participating countries to allow cross-border transfers of information and prohibits them from requiring local storage of data. These provisions will support the Internet’s open architecture and make it more difficult for TPP countries to block Internet sites -- so that users have access to a web that is global, not just local.

It's after that where the post goes off the rails:

The TPP provides strong copyright protections, while also requiring fair and reasonable copyright exceptions and limitations that protect the Internet. It balances the interests of copyright holders with the public’s interest in the wider distribution and use of creative works -- enabling innovations like search engines, social networks, video recording, the iPod, cloud computing, and machine learning. The endorsement of balanced copyright is unprecedented for a trade agreement. The TPP similarly requires the kinds of copyright safe harbors that have been critical to the Internet’s success, with allowances for some variation to account for different legal systems.

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