Extract from “White House’s Claims that the TPP Would Curb Internet Censorship are Fantasy”

Take for example, Malaysia, which is a signatory to the TPP. The country intensified its censorship of news and criticism since last summer, when a national scandal broke out over allegations that the Malaysian Prime Minister had misappropriated $700 million from a state development fund. Following Malaysia’s more recent censorship of one of the country’s major news outlets, the Malaysian Insider, the U.S. State Department denounced these policies in a public memo it sent last week, asking them to “fully respect freedom of expression, including the free flow of ideas on the internet.” The phrasing of the State Department’s request prompted some to speculate whether the TPP could be used to thwart this kind of censorship by signatories to the TPP in the future.

But the TPP’s free flow of information rules would have little effect on such blockages or the removal of online content. The rule cannot apply to the government’s journalistic suppression against the Malaysian Insider because the newspaper is a Malaysian publication, and therefore not a “covered person” under the TPP’s definition. It would also not be applicable to the government’s blocking of the Sarawak Report, which is operated out of the United Kingdom, a country that is not involved in the TPP.

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