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Google backs the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership


The Trans-Pacific Partnership (also known as the TPP) is a very controversial trade agreement among twelve countries around the world, and now it has a new ally in the form of one of the world’s largest companies: Google. “We hope that the TPP can be a positive force and an important counterweight to restrictive Internet policies around the world,” Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel at Google said 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 outlined 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 comments on said blog post have been a mixed bag — just like support for the trade agreement itself (President Obama has long advocated for the agreement, which opens up trade along the Pacific Rim, but many argue that it will hurt the US middle class by pushing jobs overseas). There’s clearly a lot of anger in response to Google’s stance, however, with many saying that the Mountain View company has officially abandoned its “Don’t be evil” mantra in supporting of the TPP.

“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 said. Yet another had this to say: “Annnnndddddd Google is now just another globalist menace. This is wild. They are no longer one of the good guys. RIP Google we all loved. Hello evil. So sad…”

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.