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Internet Governance Forum Puts the Spotlight on Trade Agreements

IGF 2016 / PLENARY – Trade Agreements and the Internet"This year was the first year in which the spotlight fell on the use of trade agreements to make rules for the Internet behind closed doors, and a broad consensus emerged that this needs to change," Jeremy Malcolm reporting today from EFF. "The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder community that discusses a broad range of Internet issues, and seeks to identify possible shared solutions to current challenges. ... In an unprecedented focus on this issue, there were three separate workshops held on the topic — an EFF-organized workshop on the disconnect between trade agreements and the Internet's multi-stakeholder governance model, two more specific workshops on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and finally a high-profile plenary session that was translated into the six United Nations languages and included on its panel two former trade negotiators, a Member of the European Parliament, and two private sector representatives, as well as speakers from EFF and Public Citizen."

Internet Infrastructure Coalition's David Snead: "I think if you look at the recent history of trade negotiations, we have this long string of failed trade agreements, and trade agreements that have been really vehemently opposed by a number of people, the last of which is TPP. What does that indicate to me? It indicates to me that as someone who believes very deeply in the potential for free trade and the fact that free trade is good, that the system isn't working. If we can't get people behind the trade agreements, if we have people in the streets opposing the trade agreements, we need to find a better way to address their concerns, and for me the primary issue is one of secrecy. I think we've gone way overboard in classifying trade agreements and trade agreement texts, and there need to be methods for opening those up."

Malcolm: "The attention now being given to trade at this important global forum comes not a moment too soon, as the intense push to ram Internet issues into international law through the TPP and TISA that we saw this year won't be dampened for long by the failure of the TPP."

Related topics: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation

 
   

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