Journalist Sues U.S. to Get Access to Trade Documents

30 December 2013

William New, editor of Intellectual Property Watch, has filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents related to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The US Trade Representative has denied his March 2012 request, saying that the draft text of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP is exempt as “national security information.”

New’s suit was tailored with students from Yale’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic.

USTR’s spokesperson Carol Guthrie in a statement said: “Releasing internal deliberative documents would undermine U.S. leverage in negotiations and impair our ability to pursue the strongest possible outcomes on issues ranging from labor and environmental protections to market access for U.S. goods and services.”

IP-Watch, an independent news service, says the public should be informed about potential changes to domestic and international intellectual property policy.

The suit was covered in TechDirt,  IPBrief and The Washington Post.

All the negotiating parties to the TPP have pledged confidentiality regarding the negotiations. (See FreedomInfo.org report.)

Other recent litigation to obtain access to similar material has been unsuccessful. (See previous Freedominfo.org report.) A U.S. appeals court June 7 denied access to a document concerning unsuccessful trade negotiations conducted in the 1990s and 2000s.

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ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
1-(703) 276-7748