It's no secret that the US Trade Representative (USTR) has approached the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations with a disappointing lack of transparency. For years now, leaks have been an inadequate substitute to reasonable public policy, and non-corporate groups have resorted to reading between the lines of press statements even as the stated timeline of the agreement has blown by.
There's another tool that members of the public can use to pry information out of agencies like the USTR: the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Through FOIA, groups like EFF can demand certain kinds of information, and the agency has a legal obligation to provide it. To that end, we've filed a FOIA request for correspondence records between USTR negotiators and corporate lobbyists about the TPP. When we receive responsive documents—likely some time in the new year—we'll go through them and release what we've found.
This isn't the first time a public interest group has used FOIA request to uncover this sort of information. In fact, our request builds specifically on earlier requests from IP-Watch and Knowledge Ecology International, which helped the public understand the cozy relationship between lobbyists and negotiators up to that point, in 2013. Our new request seeks to expand on the information discovered through that request and bring it up to date. Continue>>>