In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), 25 tech companies urged him to oppose what they consider overly broad international trade policy proposals in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Wyden has been a strong and vocal opponent of previous trade agreements like SOPA and PIPA in the past, so he likely won't need to be prodded into opposing TPP.
The coalition of technology companies are asking Sen. Wyden to opposes TPP for a number of reasons including that fact that it is being written mostly in secret by interests groups and a handful of government insiders. One of the biggest concerns is that the TPP would broadly expand the definition of "trade," which would enable governments that sign the treaty to enforce (or not enforce) copyrights.
Companies that signed the letter include Reddit, Imgur, Automattic, DuckDuckGo, Fark, BoingBoing, Cheezburger Network, NameCheap, ThoughtWorks, DataFoundry, and many others. The companies are part of the Fight for the Future coalition.
The group said that it is concerned about elements in the agreement "such as harsher criminal penalties for minor, non-commercial copyright infringements, a ‘take-down and ask questions later’ approach to pages and content alleged to breach copyright, and the possibility of Internet providers having to disclose personal information to authorities without safeguards for privacy." Allow this in the agreement "will chill innovation and significantly restrict users’ freedoms online,” the group said in its letter to Sen. Wyden.
The group went on to express its strong concerns that TPP provisions are being discussed by regulators and legislators behind closed doors, making it virtually impossible for public feedback.
"We can only build a successful innovation policy framework — one that supports new ideas, products, and markets — if the process to design it is open and participatory," the letter states. "Unfortunately, the trade negotiation process has been anything but transparent. Our industry and the users that we serve need to be at the table from the beginning to design policies that serve more than the narrow commercial interests of the few large corporations who have been invited to participate."
You can read the letter here.