Written By: - Date published: 11:29 am, April 26th, 2013 - 18 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, copyright, democracy under attack, internet, john key, national, slippery, spin, telecommunications, trade, us politics - Tags: ACTA, CISPA, GCSB, SOPA, Surveillance state, TPPA
John Key’s explanation of his meetings with Ian Fletcher hide Key’s main aims and activities in plain sight. They link to wider activities in relation to US-led initiatives around digital copyright, intellectual property and commerce. In relation to this, away from the glare of NZ’s MSM there have been some significant recent developments in international trade agreements, the US motion picture industry, intellectual property, and the role of the Five Eyes, Echelon network, of which GCSB is the NZ node. Nicky Hager played a major role in exposing the network, and explains how it operates, here.
The MSM and opposition parties are missing the most significant point when focusing on the cronyist angle to the revelations about Key meeting Ian Fletcher, just before Key shoulder-tapped him for the GCSB job. Yesterday, TVNZ reported Key rebutted cronyism-focused criticisms, saying the meetings were appropriate because :
… he and Fletcher talked about “a range of issues but primarily about economic development”.
This points to the main reason why Key considered Fletcher worth shoulder-tapping for the GCSB job: the shift from a focus on violent threats from outside NZ, to a focus on economic security.
The US government has been pushing for increased powers of digital surveillance and copyright regulation since it began negotiations on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). In the same period that this was on the table for NZ, Key was making steps to have more integration of NZ’s domestic and foreign-focused (GCSB) intelligence services under the PM’s ultimate control. Chris Trotter outlines how the first moves in that direction began in 2009.
ACTA is generally thought to have died in 2012, especially when the EU rejected it, with the US-dominated, highly secretive, TPPA now seen to be the main vehicle for a kind of PPP (government-corporate) arrangement for control over digital copyright and the Internet. As argued by Nile Bowie on the Global Research website, the US government is currently putting a lot of focus on imposing this “agreement” on the Asia-Pacific region. The agreement favours corporates, and aims for strong internet regulation, as well as decreasing regulations in favour of international financial speculators.
PP would also impose investor protections that incentivize offshoring jobs through special benefits for companies – the TPP stifles innovation by requiring internet service providers to police user-activity and treat small-scale individual downloads as large-scale for-profit violators. Most predictably, it would rollback regulation of finance capital predators on Wall Street by prohibiting bans on risky financial services and preventing signatory nations from exercising the ability to independently pursue monetary policy and issue capital controls – signatories must permit the free flow of derivatives, currency speculation and other manipulative financial instruments.
Nile claims this is being pushed strongly by the US government, because it’s economy is “ailing’.
Curiously, last month ACTA was revived in Canada, with a new Bill being introduced there, paving the way for the return ofACTA. The Bill,
… would bring about sweeping changes to its copyright and trademark laws. This includes giving more power to customs and border protection agents without any judicial oversight. The move is intended to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the country, but has been criticized for being less about protecting Canadians and more about caving to American demands.
The article links to a 2009 US “watch list”, which included Canada because,
.. the Government of Canada has not delivered on these commitments by promptly and effectively implementing key copyright reforms. The United States continues to have serious concerns with Canada’s failure to accede to and implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, which Canada signed in 1997. We urge Canada to enact legislation in the near term to strengthen its copyright laws and implement these treaties.
As NZ was not on this list, the US authorities must have been happy that Key’s government was cooperating in moves “strengthen copyright”.
Also it is important to note, in relation to NZ, and Dotcom and Hobbit issues, that the American Motion Picture Association is a key player in TPPA negotiations. Just before the Dotcom arrest a US Bill (known as SOPA- Stop Online Piracy Act) failed. It had aimed to restrict file sharing, and was supported by main players in the Hollywood industry.
This week has seen attempts to revive this aim with a new Bill that passed through Congress. The Bill is known as CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act). While it foregrounds attempts to counter “cyber-warfare“, it also incorporates a load of the same sort of surveillance and restrictions favoured by the US corporate entertainment and movie industries.
The news today is that CISPA is going to get a (temporary) road block in the Senate with it requirement for it to be redrafted as two laws, in order to protect privacy. This Bill did not get as much publicity and internet resistance as SOPA, and ACTA. However, there is a lot about it online, and here is a need to monitor its progress, and mount online resistance as required.
The federal government is already using a secretive cybersecurity program to monitor online traffic and enforce CISPA-like data sharing between Internet service providers and the Department of Defense.
The issue of Key and his government’s role in relation to GCSB is far wider than Key’s cover-ups over Fletcher’s appointment and Dotcom’s arrest. There is so much going on, led by the US government, that it is hard to get an accurate handle of where NZ fits into the larger picture.
The issues here require ongoing monitoring, discussion, and, when required, action.