VikingVPN has officially joined a number of other American tech companies that are protesting the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is a trade agreement for a number of nations all over the Pacific that is appears to be catering heavily to corporate interests and has closed off all negotiations to privacy and civil liberties groups.
We have signed the Electronic Frontier Foundation's letter that expresses our concerns about the secrecy of the negotiations as well as the efforts to "fast-track" the legislation to avoid public debate on the provisions.
Along with our signature, we added our official comments about the TPP exactly as below:
VikingVPN is strongly against the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement due to multiple serious concerns.
1. A lack of transparency or discussion by the public in all impacted nations. This is immensely important for any Democratic nation. Not allowing the public to review the provisions of the agreement, or leverage their political will to congress approval, defeats the very core elements of democracy. The only information the public has is leaked information that reveals troubling developments on multiple fronts. The (justified) concern is that the US is trying to "fast track" the agreement specifically to silence debate on the matter and circumvent the democratic process. An agreement with such far-reaching provisions deserves the utmost level of scrutiny from the people it impacts.
2. The exclusion of a complete range of opinions on issues. The TPP negotiations have skirted real debate by only inviting large corporations to view the provisions and lobby for their interests to be represented in the document. Privacy and free internet groups have not been invited to negotiations, leading to a corporate monopoly on the discussion and skewing the document to favor a few large companies rather than the citizens of the involved nations. This is a disservice to residents all over the Pacific.
3. The implied expansion of government surveillance powers in all involved nations puts everyone at risk. Data retention laws enable widespread suspicionless surveillance which can give an easy path to deep manipulation of populations by authoritarian governments. The people in the nations involved deserve to have a reasonable debate on this issue, as a majority of people are against widespread violations of their privacy.
4. Provisions allowing corporations to sue governments behind closed doors. This is deeply concerning as it is removing autonomy from these nations, including the United States, in matters of international trade.
5. Permanence. The combination of the concerns about this document, combined with the implications of there being no severability in the agreement, make it so that even with enormous public outcry after the agreement was enacted, nothing can be done to nullify the agreement.
We strongly urge congress to review the document in full and allow true public debate on the provisions of the agreement. The wide scope of issues it raises calls for intense scrutiny of the document and it should not be fast-tracked to make moneyed interests happy.