To: The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate
CONGRESS: No Backdoor SOPA!
It's been two years since Hollywood tried to ram through the innovation-killing threat to our privacy and internet freedom known as SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act.) SOPA died because we saw it for what it was: an attempt by Big Content companies to control the internet for profit - with no regard for innovation or the rights of users.
They're trying to slip it past us again, this time through the back door, using the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement.
And the president wants the authority to help them out - by "fast tracking" TPP without a public hearing.
Members of Congress: the American people have spoken. Don't let industry insiders make a mockery of our democracy. Policies that bind the U.S. deserve a public hearing - not secret têtê-á- têtês between the president and his club of Hollywood "trade advisers. Say yes to democracy and vote NO on "Fast Track."
Why is this important?
U.S. trade negotiators, acting in the interests of corporations serving as "advisers" are trying to use free trade agreements to bring in through the "back door" policies SO AWFUL they couldn't get them passed in Congress.
In 2013, the leaked “Intellectual Property” chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement confirmed our worst fears: film and media companies were pushing extreme copyright provisions in secret that would threaten individual privacy and impose severe restrictions on the Internet. While Hollywood has had a ringside seat at negotiations, with access to the negotiating text so they could give input, Congress—whose job it is to oversee trade—wasn't even invited to the party.
Now, the president expects them to grant him "Fast Track" authority, so he can slide through the TPP, and TTIP, a companion agreement in Europe, quickly, before anybody notices.
Both deals threaten everything Americans hold dear – from our jobs to our sovereignty. One of the biggest threats is language that brings back provisions from SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA was defeated two years ago amid a huge, bipartisan public outcry. It would impose severe limits and harsh penalties on internet users for what many of us consider harmless everyday sharing. We could face fines or lose internet access FOREVER for such things as non-commercial, small-scale copying (from the buffer copy made when you view a legit video to sending your buddy an image or song) to “breaking” a digital lock so you can use software you have purchased on a Linux platform. Even worse, the methods by which ISPs would need to monitor for "copyright infringement" threaten online privacy in a way that we can never reverse. Service providers would become online police-or be held responsible for any copyrighted content they allowed to be transmitted. Besides monitoring websites and social networks, they would have to scan individual email, clouds, and secure communications for potentially offending links. In some instances, government agencies could gain unauthorized access to user data that would normally require a warrant. That 4th amendment threat, once established as routine, would be virtually impossible to roll back. (So much for eliminating NSA spying.) And because these provisions would be part of an international trade agreement, users in member countries would have no legal recourse to fight this warrantless surveillance. (We couldn't even pass a law to fix the problem, because trade agreements trump domestic laws.)
That's why we MUST stop Congress from granting the president "Fast Track" authority. (The official name is The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act and the bill was introduced January 9 in the House and Senate.)
And we must stop these undemocratic "free trade" agreements that have nothing to do with trade and are destroying our economy and eroding our civil liberties - all to further fatten the wallets of a handful of Hollywood crony capitalists who managed to buy themselves seats at the president's table.