Wyden appeals to Internet activists on trade agreement

Wyden appeals to Internet activists on trade agreement
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Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous income Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday appealed to Internet activists who have relentlessly criticized him over his support for “fast-track” trade legislation. 

In a Wired op-ed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee asserted the fast-track authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal itself would help protect the open Internet.  

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He also asserted that trade deals would not prevent the United States from changing its own outdated policies on things like copyright law.

“Many of these activists have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me in the past as I fought against powerful special interests,” he wrote. “I appreciate their views and their work to keep the internet open and free.”

“Let me explain my position clearly,” he added. 

Wyden said he agreed with some criticism that draft provisions in the Pacific trade deal could go too far to “protect copyright at the expense of free speech, digital security and the public good.”

But he touted other protections won in the trade negotiations, including securing the open flow of online data between countries. Wyden said he has also pushed U.S. trade negotiators to protect net neutrality in the deal. 

He vowed to never accept a trade agreement that included provisions similar to the failed SOPA and PIPA copyright bills, which Internet activists helped kill in 2011. 

Outside groups like Fight for the Future have criticized Wyden for helping introduce “fast-track” trade promotion authority, which would require a quick vote in Congress after the administration negotiates the trade deal with 11 other Asian-Pacific countries. 

“Ron Wyden used to be a hero for the open Internet. Then he introduced fast-track for TPP. Call and boo him now,” the group tweeted last month. 

Other tech lobbying groups have specifically highlighted flaws in how the “fast-track” proposal handles copyright issues. The Internet Association said the bill “fails” to factor in the “limitations and exemptions in copyright law.”

But Wyden said he has lobbied U.S. negotiators to fight for those exceptions in the Trans Pacific Partnership deal itself.  

“These new provisions are consistent with what is known as ‘fair use,’ and are vital for researchers, journalists, and an informed public,” he said.