[governance] Other News - How the Trade in Services Agreement Lets Big Brother Go Global

Guru Guru at ITforChange.net
Tue Dec 30 22:14:06 EST 2014

whether TPP or NMI, the aim/idea is the same - more power to the 
powerful....  the newsletter below should warn us about where the 
biggest dangers lie ...

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 	Other News - How the Trade in Services Agreement Lets Big 
Brother Go Global
Date: 	Mon, 29 Dec 2014 17:59:40 -0000
From: 	english at other-news.info
To: 	english <english at other-news.info>

*How the Trade in Services Agreement Lets Big Brother Go Global*
*/By Don Quijones* - Naked Capitalism/*
Much has been written, at least in the alternative media, about the 
Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and 
Investment Partnership (TTIP), two multilateral trade treaties being 
negotiated between the representatives of dozens of national governments 
and armies of corporate lawyers and lobbyists (on which you can read 
more here, here and here). However, much less is known about the 
decidedly more secretive Trade in Services Act (TiSA), which involves 
more countries than either of the other two.
At least until now, that is. Thanks to a leaked document jointly 
published by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and Filtrala, the 
potential ramifications of the treaty being hashed out behind 
hermetically sealed doors in Geneva are finally seeping out into the 
public arena.
If signed, the treaty would affect all services ranging from electronic 
transactions and data flow, to veterinary and architecture services. It 
would almost certainly open the floodgates to the final wave of 
privatization of public services, including the provision of healthcare, 
education and water. Meanwhile, already privatized companies would be 
prevented from a re-transfer to the public sector by a so-called 
barring “ratchet clause” – even if the privatization failed.
More worrisome still, the proposal stipulates that no participating 
state can stop the use, storage and exchange of personal data relating 
to their territorial base. Here’s more from Rosa Pavanelli, general 
secretary of Public Services International (PSI):
The leaked documents confirm our worst fears that TiSA is being used to 
further the interests of some of the largest corporations on earth (…) 
Negotiation of unrestricted data movement, internet neutrality and how 
electronic signatures can be used strike at the heart of individuals’ 
rights. Governments must come clean about what they are negotiating in 
these secret trade deals.
Fat chance of that, especially in light of the fact that the text is 
designed to be almost impossible to repeal, and is to be 
“considered confidential” for five years after being signed. What 
that effectively means is that the U.S. approach to data protection 
(read: virtually non-existent) could very soon become the norm across 50 
countries spanning the breadth and depth of the industrial world.
*Big Brother Goes Global*
The main players in the top-secret negotiations are the United States 
and all 28 members of the European Union. However, the broad scope of 
the treaty also includes Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, 
Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, 
Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, 
Taiwan and Turkey. Combined they represent almost 70 percent of all 
trade in services worldwide.
An explicit goal of the TiSA negotiations is to overcome the exceptions 
in GATS that protect certain non-tariff trade barriers, such as data 
protection. For example, the draft Financial Services Annex of TiSA, 
published by Wikileaks in June 2014, would allow financial institutions, 
such as banks, the free transfer of data, including personal data, from 
one country to another. As Ralf Bendrath, a senior policy advisor to the 
MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, writes in State Watch, this would constitute a 
radical carve-out from current European data protection rules:
The transfer and analysis of financial data from EU to US authorities 
for the US “Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme” (TFTP) has already 
shaken EU-US relations in the past and led the European Parliament to 
veto a first TFTP agreement in 2010. With the draft text of the TiSA 
leak, all floodgates would be opened.
The weakening of EU data protection rules through TiSA goes 
further than “only” the financial sector. According to sources close 
to the negotiations, a draft of the TiSA “Electronic Commerce and 
Telecommunications Services Annex” contains provisions that would ban 
any restrictions on cross-border information flows and localization 
requirements for ICT service providers. A provision proposed by US 
negotiators would rule out any conditions for the transfer of personal 
data to third countries that are currently in place in EU data 
protection law.
Given Edward Snowden’s startling revelations of the scale and scope of 
NSA snooping on European citizens, companies and political leaders – 
much of it facilitated by its junior surveillance partner, the UK’s 
General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – the prospect of 
completely unhindered cross-border information and data flows should set 
off alarm bells across the old continent. Unfortunately that isn’t the 
case, for the simple reason that most people are blissfully unaware of 
it, thanks in large part to the near-complete absence of mainstream 
coverage and public debate on the issue.
*The End of Privacy As We Know It?*
As for the EU, divining its real intentions concerning data protection 
is an almost impossible task. Publicly it is in favor of strengthening 
data protections. There have even been proposals to introduce changes to 
the routing of internet data packets, so that they take a certain path 
and remain within the EU. In the European Parliament an amendment was 
tabled by the Green Party to encrypt all Internet traffic from end to 
end and was adopted as part of a compromise on the committee vote in 
As regards national security, the Council of Europe ministers 
responsible for media and information society stated in November 2013 that:
Any data collection or surveillance for the purpose of protection of 
national security must be done in compliance with existing human rights 
and rule of law requirements, including Article 8 of the European 
Convention on Human Rights. Given the growing technological capabilities 
for electronic mass surveillance and the resulting concerns, we 
emphasise that there must be adequate and effective guarantees against 
abuse which may undermine or even destroy democracy.
In private, however, EU trade negotiators – that is, the people with 
real power – are coming under intense U.S. pressure to sign away 
virtually all European data protection rights. As Bendrath notes, U.S. 
lobbying efforts, through groups such as the Orwellian-named 
“Coalition for Privacy and Free Trade”, have been pushing 
for “interoperability” between European and American rules on both 
sides of the Atlantic. That basically means a mutual recognition on the 
respective rules on both sides of the Atlantic. The only catch: in the 
United States there are currently no comprehensive data protection laws 
in place.
If the U.S. negotiators get their way – and let’s face it, when it 
comes to its dealings with its so-called “allies,” Washington 
invariably does – multinational corporations will have carte blanche 
to pry into just about every facet of the working and personal lives of 
the inhabitants of roughly a quarter of the world’s 200-or-so nations. 
Such a prospect should worry us all: exploitation of big data serves 
today to shape our consumption; it can reveal our whereabouts at all 
times, our conduct, preferences, feelings or even our most intimate 
thoughts. If TiSA is signed in its current form – and we will not know 
what that form is until at least five years down the line – that data 
will be freely bought and sold on the open market place without our 
knowledge; companies and governments will be able to store it for as 
long as they desire and use it for just about any purpose.
Perhaps the most perverse irony is that while the corporations and their 
servants in our elected (or in the case of the EU, unelected) 
governments seek to turn our lives into a vast open book of actionable 
or monetizable data, their own actions are increasingly being conducted 
behind an impenetrable blanket of darkness and secrecy. And as John F 
Kennedy once said during a little known speech on the grave threat posed 
by the Soviet Union, “the very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a 
free and open society.” By Don Quijones
*/*A freelance writer and translator based in Barcelona, Spain, and 
editor at Wolf Street, where this article was originally published/*


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