At 6,000 pages and 30 chapters, the full text of the landmark 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement is now public.
And it’s already drawing fire for the ways it could impact British Columbians’ privacy.
Steve Anderson with the Open Media foundation says one of the troubling provisions of the deal is the way it outlaws so-called “data localization” rules.
“The BC government has a law where sensitive data like health data must be stored within BC … it can’t be transferred out of country,” he says.
Anderson says that’s because there’s a desire to keep personal information like that within Canada, where it can be monitored. But he warns the law could be struck down thanks to language in the TPP, designed to allow foreign companies to sell those data hosting services to the government.
“Those are rules that we should decide democratically.”
“In this case, I think there’s tech companies that don’t want there to be rules that mandate that Canadian data stay in Canada. There’s a business interest in having it flow across the border. And so they’ve been able to insert these provisions and make that illegal. … Those are rules that we should decide democratically.”
Anderson says the privacy issue is just one of a number of worrying provisions in the pact that deal with intellectual property.
“It’s not actually a trade agreement. There’s almost nothing lowering tariffs and that sort of thing, which is what trade agreements are supposed to be about. It’s really about protecting different industries and monopolies.”
He says other problematic elements include extending copyright by two decades, and banning consumers from unlocking their own cel phones.
Anderson’s comments come as Blackberry founder and billionaire tech investor Jim Balsillie also calls out intellectual property rules in the deal, warning the TPP could cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars.