Obama: 'The American People Will Have Months to Read Every Word' of the TPP

Monday, 12 countries agreed to terms on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

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Oct 5 2015, 1:56pm

Image: The White House/Flickr

The United States and 11 countries around the world tentatively agreed on the language for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the largest trade agreements in the history of the world. What does the agreement say? Well, no one knows yet.

The secrecy surrounding the actual text of the partnership has been one of many issues digital civil rights groups have raised with the agreement: Parts of it have leaked throughout the nine-year negotiations, and it appears as though the agreement has language that would change how the internet works.

Among the issues that have already come out: TPP could rewrite foreign copyright law to be more similar to those in the United States, its environmental section is flawed, it could make prescription drugs more expensive in developing nations, and it generally favors the interests of corporations over the interests of people.

The TPP's signatories include the US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Brunei.

Groups such as Wikileaks, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Demand Progress are concerned that the full agreement will be pushed through without proper public oversight, a legitimate concern considering not one single part of the process has thus far been open to the public.

President Obama announced his support of the agreement Monday, but also acknowledged the concerns of those groups, saying that the full text of the treaty will be released shortly, and that the public will have the chance to comb through the language as Congress considers ratifying it.

"Once negotiators have finalized the text of this partnership, Congress and the American people will have months to read every word before I sign it," he said in a statement.

Given what we know about it already, expect a lot of groups to do just that.