Google backs Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

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By Larry Banks

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a controversial trade agreement between twelve countries, and now has a new ally in Google.

“We hope that the TPP can be a positive force and an important counterweight to restrictive Internet policies around the world”, said Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel at Google in a blog post. “Like many other tech companies, we look forward to seeing the agreement approved and implemented in a way that promotes a free and open Internet across the Pacific region”.

Google covered the reasons for its support of the trade agreement in detail:

Trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are beginning to recognize the Internet’s transformative impact on trade.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The TPP advances other important Internet policy goals. It prohibits discrimination against foreign Internet services, limits governments’ ability to demand access to encryption keys or other cryptographic methods, requires pro-innovation telecom access policies, prohibits customs duties on digital products, requires proportionality in intellectual property remedies, and advances other key digital goals.

The blog post comments have been a very mixed response. Many have said Google has now abandoned its “Don’t be evil” ethos by supporting the corporation-friendly bill.

“Why did Larry and Sergey have to leave the company to these idiots?”, one commenter asked. “Previously unsure if Google had completely betrayed ‘Don’t be evil’. Now confirmed. Complete betrayal. You can now drop the ‘Don’t’ from that maxim”, another commentator said.


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