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Internet companies push Wyden on trade transparency

 

A group of Internet companies are lobbying on the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (D-Ore.) to protect the Internet and promote transparency in trade deals.

"As the new Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, you are in a position to shape U.S. policy to keep this country a place where innovation thrives," the group of companies — including Reddit, CREDO Mobile and Automattic, which operates WordPress — and advocacy groups said in an open letter Thursday.

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The coalition of tech companies and advocacy groups urged Wyden to continue his "work as a staunch defender of users and online rights." 

They pointed to his work to block the Stop Online Piracy Act and its companion in the Senate, the online piracy bills that died in the last Congress after inciting a massive online protest.

"Today we write about another emerging front in the battle to defend the free Internet— massive trade deals," the letter said, citing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a trade deal between the U.S., Asian countries and South American countries.

"These highly secretive, supranational agreements are reported to include provisions ... that impact patents, copyright, and privacy in ways that constrain legitimate online activity and innovation," the letter said.

Citing leaked text from the the TPP negotiations, the groups expressed concern about copyright provisions being put forth by the U.S. government that would "bind treaty signatories to inflexible digital regulations that undermine free speech," such as stricter criminal penalties for copyright infringement.

"It is virtually certain that such proposals would face serious scrutiny if proposed at the domestic level or via a more transparent process," the groups said.

The letter also pushed Wyden to block any attempts to cloak the trade negotiation process by allowing the executive branch to "fast track" negotiations.

"We look forward to your continued dedication to the interests of technology and its users," the groups said.