Special interests won a federal court ruling earlier this year, where the judge in the case suggested that President Obama's ban on registered lobbyists serving on federal advisory committees violated those lobbyists' rights. In light of this ruling, the White House has sent a memo specifying new rules, permitting lobbyists to once again officially serve on federal agencies if they are representing a specific client (such as say, the Motion Picture Association of America).
These new relaxed rules on lobbyists mean that Hollywood will now be able to exercise their influence on US trade policy more than ever.
Since President Obama enacted the ban in 2010, only non-registered lobbyists were able to serve on these Trade Advisory Committees. These committees currently include hundreds of legal advisors for corporations, who can log in from their own computers to view and comment on the official drafts of trade agreements. Meanwhile, Congress members are only permitted to view the text in a specific room without the ability to take notes or be accompanied by legislative aides. Public representatives are afforded even less access to negotiations than corporate representatives.
It's no wonder that the TPP carries so many anti-user policies. Based upon what we've seen from the leaked Intellectual Property chapter, we know that this current arrangement already gives corporations undue influence over its terms. That's why the TPP includes provisions that criminalize the circumvention of DRM, expand the international standard of copyright terms to life of the author plus 70 years, and cement dangerous liabilities for websites and other Internet intermediaries that will force them to take down and censor users' content.
If you're a US voter, you can help us fix this broken, corporate-captured process. Senator Ron Wyden, who has been a vocal opponent to the TPP's secretive negotiations, has the unique opportunity to make things right. As Chair of the Finance Committee, he's under massive pressure from Hollywood to introduce a bill that will legitimize this whole undemocratic process.
We need your help to call on Sen. Wyden to bring Internet users' interests to the table. Let's ask him to bring real transparency and accountability to the trade negotiation process so our international laws protect, not impair, digital rights.