Documents from the Trans-Pacific Partnership undermine results of IT Pricing Inquiry.
By Tim Colwill on November 14, 2013 at 9:31 am
It was great news back in July when the Australian parliament released the findings of its inquiry into the Australia Tax, and publicly claimed for the world to hear that they supported the idea of enshrining in law “consumers’ rights to circumvent technological protection measures that control geographic market segmentation”.
In other words, that they would make it illegal to enforce nonsense geoblocking that forces Australians to pay higher prices. Great, right?
Now it seems that the government has, in secret, been using the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to do the exact opposite. New documents released by Wikileaks overnight show that Australia has secretly backed the USA in their attempts to negotiate for stricter rules on geoblocking, and supports the USA’s proposal to make it illegal to circumvent these restrictions.
An amendment to the TPP proposed by Canada would make it legal to buy and sell devices which defeat region coding, such as mod chips for consoles. But despite their public statements that geoblocking is harmful and they will get rid of it, Australia actually opposes this amendment.
Canada, along seven other TPP negotiating countries, also want to enshrine in law that ISPs cannot be held responsible for any copyright infringement undertaken by their customers — a position that was upheld in the High Court of Australia last year in a landmark case between iiNet and AFACT.
However, Australia is listed in the TPP documents, alongside the USA, as opposing this amendment.
As noted by the Sydney Morning Herald, the one area in which Australia opposes the US is on the issue of drug patents, with the US pushing for even stronger patent rights for drug companies.
TPP negotiations are ongoing. Media and other observers are barred from attending.