True to his campaign pledge, President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that ended America’s engagement with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a large trade agreement signed by countries that make up 40 percent of the world’s economy. If there is one generation that should be most grateful for this development, it would be millennials.
Millennials are the world’s biggest consumers of Internet products and services. In the U.S. alone, 95 percent of millennials used and had access to the internet in 2010. In the context of its copyright language, TPP provisions restrict the way people use the internet and may even criminalize ‘routine’ online activities — jeopardizing both internet freedom and cybersecurity.
The U.S. withdrawal from the TPP deal would be most beneficial to the millennials as this trade agreement can severely restrict Internet freedom. One of the TPP copyright provisions enables copyright holders to ban all types of unauthorized reproduction of digital materials and contents. This restriction is serious considering the fact that computers use ‘temporary storage’ to allow routine activities such as video buffering. By and large, millennials use the internet for a variety of purposes, including information and entertainment. The TPP is an instrument for unnecessary level of online regulation.
Distancing from the TPP is also good news for the millennials insofar as TPP’s provisions for site-blocking and data censorship. The TPP not only gives extreme regulatory powers to the copyright holders themselves, but the agreement also allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to have greater leverage in decisions linked to potential copyright infringements. As a result, ISPs can initiate rules such as ‘three-strikes’ policy to shut down or block the Internet access of users — that is, even without the procedural protections guaranteed by existing laws. Apart from internet freedom per se, certain provisions of the TPP can also threaten cybersecurity. In particular, one provision “prohibits requirements for source code disclosure or transfer as a condition for market access”. This TPP provision means that nations are prohibited from requiring software developers to disclose source code — an action that will theoretically prevent privacy and piracy violations. In practice, however, non-disclosure of source code is a highly problematic arrangement. Without monitoring the content of source codes, users are more likely to access compromised data and are more likely to be exposed to hacking activities by cybercriminals. TPP does not protect cyber security for users, especially for the millennials who represent the largest consumers of digital products and services.
Ending the deal with the TPP is one remarkable move to preserve internet freedom and ensure cybersecurity. The TPP is replete with copyright provisions that threaten the uses of and access to the Internet. The deal has an unfair set of provisions as it mostly provides protections to copyright holders to the extent of compromising the rights and protections of consumers. The battle against the TPP is a victory for the millennials; in the absence of this deal, the ‘digital generation’ can experience an internet that is generally free and unrestricted.