Trans-Pacific Partnership Triggers Privacy Concerns

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been making waves since its announcement in June 2012. It was being negotiated among a dozen Pacific Rim countries during the winter and attracted many critics and privacy advocates.

What is the TPP?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a broad trans-pacific trade and investment pact that includes 11 members: the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Recently, Japan has expressed an interest in joining the discussion, which is said to eclipse the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in both size and scope. The US government has been busy encouraging other Asian countries to consider the TPP.

Opposing groups in Canada argue that the price of joining the TPP may be high, as leaked documents have suggested the deal may require a major overhaul of Canadian agriculture, investment, intellectual property and culture protection rules. Another concern is the lack of transparency around the negotiations as well as Canadian participation in them.

Leading Canadian telecommunications companies, such as Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Telus, have voiced concerns regarding changes to internet provider liability rules, while groups representing the blind warned against new restrictions to accessing digital materials. The Canadian Liberty Association also expressed worries about a reversal of recent changes to copyright damages rules.

Stop the Trap

Touted as a means to curtail Canadians’ internet freedoms, the Council of Canadians and OpemMedia launched a campaign to discourage Canada from joining the TPP, arguing that it would “criminalize some everyday uses of the Internet,” including mashups and small-scale music downloading.

Some of the new internet restrictions that could be imposed by the TPP are outlined below:

  • Currently, Canada’s term of copyright meets the international standard of life of the author plus 50 years. TPP would expand this to the life of the author plus 70 years.
  • Canada’s term of copyright for sound recordings is 50 years from the first fixation of the recording. TPP would expand this to 95 years in most cases.
  • Canada’s Copyright Act criminalizes certain types of copyright infringement for profit. TPP would include cases without any direct/indirect motive of financial gain, as well as cases of aiding and abetting, which could be applied to ISPs.
  • Bill C-11 contains restrictive provisions on technological protection measures, but it includes a mechanism to identify new exceptions. TPP would increase penalties for circumvention and prevent new exceptions.
  • C-11 distinguishes between commercial and non-commercial infringement. TPP requirements apply to both.
  • C-11 forbids removal or alteration of rights management information, while TPP would require criminal penalties for such removal or alteration in addition to civil penalties, and expressly limits any exceptions to those for law enforcement purposes.
  • C-11 requires a service provider to retain records of individuals against whom they have received notice of infringement. TPP would require judicial procedures for such identifying information to be turned over to copyright holders, potentially requiring disclosure of personal information without any safeguards for privacy
  • C-11 creates a notice-and-notice system for online infringement, while TPP requires a notice-and-takedown system, very similar to the American DMCA.
  • TPP would create a new requirement allowing copyright owners to block parallel trade of copyrighted works, preventing the importation of a copyrighted work into a country where the work is unavailable at the same p[rice.
  • TPP would introduce patent provisions that would extend patent terms and damages.

According to OpenMedia founder and executive director Steve Anderson,

“[The TPP] will give Big Media conglomerates new powers to lock users out of our own content and services, provide new liabilities that might force ISPs to police our online activity, and give giant media companies even greater powers to shut down websites and remove content at will. To make matters worse these unpopular Internet restrictions will be cemented into place through international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.”


This article takes a look at Canadian concerns regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment pact that currently includes eleven Pacific Rim countries. While the TPP would make significant changes to Canadian agriculture, investment, intellectual property and culture protection rules, the article concentrates on how the TPP would curtail internet freedoms.

CIPP Exam Preparation

In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/Canadian Privacy (CIPP/C), a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:

  • Scope and application of law (I.A.b.iii.)
  • General concepts of fair information practice (I.B.b.)
  • Compliance trends and issues (II.B.h.)

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>