back to article TTIP: A locked room, no internet access, two hours, 300 pages and lots of typos

A German MP has given an insight into the surreal restrictions imposed around the upcoming US-EU trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Katja Kipping has written a personal account of her visit to a special reading room at the German Ministry of Economics that was set up after Parliamentarians …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If legislators have any sense, this sort of thing will kill the deal

    I'd be mighty suspicious someone is trying to pull a fast one on me if they make me go through all that. I'm sure when they are provided classified briefings the security isn't cranked up that high so why would you vote for something that its authors believe needs to be classified above Top Secret?

    1. Richard Jones 1
      Flame

      Re: If legislators have any sense, this sort of thing will kill the deal

      With conditions such as those being put in place the ONLY conclusion that can be drawn is that the heap of crap is a heap of crap that should be flushed down the sluice of life ASAP.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I'm not in the EU and I'm afraid of this agreement also...

    There's some real shenanigans going on behind the scenes just like the Pacific trade agreement. I'm in the US and these agreements are giving me the worries. If I were in the EU, I'd be even more worried.

    This whole realm of secrecy is not a good thing. We know that the multinationals are pulling strings but what extent? How can a legislature vote to approve something they're not allowed to see and study until it's time to vote on it? This whole thing smells as bad as the last agreement.

    1. Shady

      Re: I'm not in the EU and I'm afraid of this agreement also...

      WTF are you worried for? This agreement allegedly gives corporations the power to sue foreign governments for having legislation that gets in the way of profit. Who does not believe the effect this will have is to have a ratio of a thousand US inc's suing European gov's for barring trade to each European inc suing the US of A for the same? The yanks will end up flooding Europe with chocolate manufactured from stale puke and deep frozen three headed GM chickens but any European inc that decides to take on a US trade barrier in exactly the same manner will be shot down faster than peeping-tom drone in Texas.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        American free market fundamentalism

        America: We're gonna sell you shitburgers.

        Europe: Er, no thanks.

        America: But free market! Our corporations have the freedom to sell shitburgers, and your citizens must have the freedom to eat the shitburgers. It's all about freedom.

        Europe: These services violate the privacy of our citizens.

        America: But free market! Our corporations need the freedom to use "innovative" business models, and your citizens need to be free to give them data so they can improve those business models. And make them even MORE "innovative".

        Europe: Our people have rights that protect them against corporations.

        America: But corporations ARE people. When corporations are free, people are also free. To choose products and stuff.

        Europe: Some of your corps are monopolies.

        America: Monopolies are just companies that have done really really well. In the free market. Because they're free. ... Freeeeedom!

        1. Lars Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: American free market fundamentalism

          The interesting and sound thing about this is that the American public, including, some intelligent guys like Bernie Sanders (perhaps even Hillary?) have the same doubts about it. I have even seen Fox twats questioning it fearing all those Eastern countries now being able to sell shit to the USA and sue American corporations in a private court in the USA.

          Lets shoot it down, I am looking at you MEPs. Lets have a trade agreement, yes, but without all the rubbish that does not belong there, and without this secrecy.

  3. rtb61

    Like crazed deluded idiot children. Plotting and scheming in private and thinking how smart they are and how everyone else is stupid and gullible. Then the documents publicly hit various governments and must be disclosed and discussed prior to being voted on (they can not be changed, just accepted or rejected), so accepted by completely corrupt governments and rejected by only partly corrupt governments, in the end, all the idiotic plotting a scheming for naught (but at least they were paid and paid lots to plot and scheme in the conspiracy and according to the psychopathic rules of capitalism, isn't that all that counts, not whether they succeed or not, just how much they got paid, I wonder how much exactly did those plotters and schemers get paid, so who exactly is the joke on).

    1. Graham Marsden

      @rtb61

      > in the end, all the idiotic plotting a scheming for naught

      Would that that was definitely the case, but the fact that such an illiberal and clandestine power grab has already managed to get so far makes me think that whoever is behind this has already planned for this and will ensure that the votes go the "right" way for them.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5 year plan

    Stalinism revisited via the belief that economic growth alone will fix anything.

    More steel! More trade! Damn the consequences.

  5. aberglas

    This bullshit did not happen in Australia

    No way did we let politicians or anyone else see the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement before it was signed. You never know what misunderstandings they might come to.

    No, the TPP was negotiated by our career public servants under the leadership of our most honorable minister, and guided by very highly paid corporate negotiators. There was never any need or point in having anybody review the text. Especially as our Labor party was too confused to disagree with anything anyway.

    1. Oengus

      Re: This bullshit did not happen in Australia

      All hail the TPP...

      All hail our new corporate overlords.

  6. westlake

    Term of office.

    >>the Obama Administration recently accepted that it was probable that the deal will not be signed before the current president leaves office in November<<

    President Obama's term office ends January 20, 2017.

    .

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Oligarchy Malarkey

    Double Plus Half Off!!!! So when the vast majority of us have no money- the putative 99% - who is supposed to buy all the crap being slung about by these Mega Corporations that have already pink slipped half the Planet? We already have a VAST Corporate Political Machine primed here in the States- The Chamber of Commerce, Lobbyists of every stripe and sector, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council - a front for businesses to literally WRITE Legislation and have Elected Officials rubber stamp it into Law- most times without even READING IT!) and a vast array of State and Local Lobbyists to ensure the Elected City Council or State Legislature obeys their Corporate Overlords.

    The TTIP is the Love Child of Henry Ford and Adolph Hitler as with the TPP and NAFTA and every other "Free Trade" deal of the past twenty years or so. It's not Fascism or Communism if you have a CEO, so it MUST be okay, right? Yeah, I'm feeling that "Invisible Hand" and I don't think yer supposed to be touchin' that, buddy...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oligarchy Malarkey

      At least Henry Ford realised that you need to pay the highest wages possible, so that people could afford the products of their own labour.

      TTIP is just a race-to-the-bottom "ain't nowhere left to globalize too".

      1. MonkeyCee

        Re: Oligarchy Malarkey

        That's Henry Ford who said "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Henry Ford. See also, more recently:

          "The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it. The process by which banks create money is so simple the mind is repelled. With something so important, a deeper mystery seems only decent."

          – John Kenneth Galbraith writing in 'Money: Whence it came, where it went' (1975).

          And also

          "In the real world, banks extend credit, creating deposits in the process , and look for the reserves later."

          -Alan Holmes, then Senior Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York (1969)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TTIP... Our corporate overlords speak...Scary!

    "the typos are a form of security, introduced deliberately and specifically for each reader so that if the text does leak it can be tracked back to whoever viewed that version."...

    Can someone leak this already?... Hackers / Whistleblowers please get into that room and de-air-gap...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TTIP... Our corporate overlords speak...Scary!

      Re:Typos. Can't they just transcribe and fix the typos as they go?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TTIP... Our corporate overlords speak...Scary!

        But only some of them because that may grass up someone else ;-)

  9. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    You know...

    ... when I used to play Traveller and Elite, I always wondered what those "Corporate State" governments would actually be like.

    Now I know and it doesn't look like a good thing :-(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know...

      Toss in ShadowRun to add in the behaviors of a MegaCorp. I'm waiting for the virus that flatlines the matrix.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There really ought to be a law that simply says "if you can't publish it, it can't be voted for "

  11. raving angry loony

    Kill it with fire.

    Even better, kill the "negotiators" with fire.

    ANY deal whose intermediate stages cannot stand the light of day has no place in a free democracy. Such deals are the domain of despots, fascists, and corporatists. The latter is probably where the current crop of "trade deals" originate, given the extraordinary powers given to corporations over the very laws of the country as voted on by elected representatives.

  12. Long John Brass
    Black Helicopters

    Welcome

    Welcome EUisians to the the hell that the APACians are living in.

    One day Corporatism will be mentioned in the same section of the dictionary as Fascism, Communism etc under the section that reads "Turns out THAT was a bad idea" or "-Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself."

    But until then I for one welcome our new corporate overlords... Oh hell who am I kidding.

  13. frank ly

    Wrong, in so many ways.

    "... Parliamentarians fought and won the right to see the text being negotiated on their behalf by bureaucrats."

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Wrong, in so many ways.

      While the administration usually has a grip on the parliamentary timetable, most legislatures have some sort of space for the opposition or individual members to initiate some sort of debate which could conclude in a vote.

      Rather than save these occasional opportunities for matters of fundamental concern where they could have some impact, they're typically seen as opportunities for a bit of point-scoring and publicity.

      The same parliamentarias who "fought and won" to see the text, could equally fight and win to require their administrations to publish the text (or abandon negotiations) if they really wanted to.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong, in so many ways.

      Wrong in every way.

      Unfortunately the unelected EU commissioners actually run the EU.

      The elected politicians are only window dressing,

      Most just don't see that as they have good wages and a lifetime pension .

      Those that do are cast as villains and nut cases.

      The EU has a huge slush fund for spreading disinformation and scaremongering.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    Typo tracking

    I read about that technique in a Tom Clancy novel some years ago. At the time, I thought it was a pretty smart thing to do.

    Except that here, if you can spot that sort of thing in less than 25 seconds per document, you are giving away the plot. And if there are that many typos, then it seems obvious that, to leak the document properly, all you have to do is correct them and they'll never find out who leaked it.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid. This whole thing positively reeks of vested interests, backroom deals and brown envelopes. And this is something that a democracy is supposed to accept ?

    Humbug.

    1. Mayhem

      Re: Typo tracking

      The typos are probably a double blind - the real canary trap will be a legalese synonym dictionary making every copy unique. Correcting the typos will be a way to catch out lazy journalists who copy and paste instead of transliterating the text.

  15. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Devil

    For brevity...

    The TL:DR background.

  16. BurnT'offering

    This would be a lot of work but ....

    It would be fun to create a plausible bogus copy of the text and leak it widely. Cue frantic denials from the real authors, who would have no way to prove it false without releasing the real thing.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Post apocalypsis

    If in the TPP or TTIP world, you will download/torrent a movie to your Windows 10 machine, you will have the police (or some outsourced private police force) knocking at your door in one hour, with an arrest warrant based on a recorded, full copy of your HDD/SSD or cloud storage with the offending content. You will be facing at least 5 years in prison or 100000 $ fine. Sounds crazy? I know.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Democracy is finished

    The worst thing about these agreements is they effectively destroy democracy, reducing everything into a sort of Cleggite / Osbornite soulless corporate liberalism.

    Socialists.Want to renationalise the railways? Protect your steel industries? Restrict outsourcing? Your nation is sued in offshore tribunals.

    Greens. Want to stop fracking or cut back on emissions? Your nation is sued in offshore tribunals.

    Patriots / UKIP. Want to favour British business, stop offshoring, or protect small business? Your nation is sued in offshore tribunals.

    When everyone from socialists to greens to conservatives to libertarians are against these deals, you know they are only there to bolster foreign corporate power at the extent of the nation state, national soveriegnty, democracy and public services.

    It is notable the backers of these deals are always the Osbornite tories, the Cleggite Orange Book liberals and the Blairite Labour faction. The so called centre ground (i.e. establishment and corporate consensus).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the backers of these deals are

      E.g. people like the dark Lord "Two Resignations" Mandelson. See e.g. his efforts, while an EU Trade Commissioner, to pass the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Failed on that occasion, but TTIP is the same stuff and far far more.

      1. John Hughes

        Re: the backers of these deals are

        But that can't have happened because all the kippers tell us that the EU parliament has no power and the commission controls everything.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Democracy is finished

      There hasn't been real democracy for a long time, just elected dictatorships who are often elected with minority support, who favour their friends above those who put them into power.

      This is just the ultimate and obvious outcome from those who know they can and will get away with anything.

  19. philthane

    Who knows? Really?

    No-one I know in the old-fashioned, real life, face-to-face sense has heard of TTIP. When I mention it people's eyes glaze over and they seem to assume I'm either a raving commie or an anti-EU Faragist. In fact I'm a quaint old liberal who thinks democracy is the least worst form of government we've invented so far, and is saddened to see it imperilled by a combination of avarice and ignorance.

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Who knows? Really?

      @philthane

      So what do we do about it? I have much the same experience -- I tear my hair out over how to get TTIP onto people's awareness. At the moment, if I write to my MP about TTIP, he treats me like a green ink nutter.

      Campaign suggestions on a postcard...

      1. John Hughes

        Re: Who knows? Really?

        At the moment, if I write to my MP about TTIP, he treats me like a green ink nutter.

        Why are you writing to your MP? You should be writing to your MEP -- he's the person who's going to have to accept or reject TTIP.

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Who knows? Really?

        "Campaign suggestions on a postcard..." A thick brown envelope. (not a postcard), Some of those guys are just waiting for instructions and or envelopes. Not an optimist to day.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    I'll some it up....

    ..make rich people richer, make poor people poorer.

    Did it really need all that paperwork?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll some it up....

      Make rich people richer, make poor people poorer. Forever.

      It's the *forever* part that requires 300 pages.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll some it up....

      It's actually worse, it's an attempt to undermine the Nation states authority against a corporation.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, where is Wikileaks here?

    If you are talking about something of actual value to general democracy I think that that document is just about the best to obtain, the fanatic efforts to keep it secure clearly indicate that there is a lot in that document that is at best not quite kosher, at worst clearly displaying just how well the US respects your rights if they get in the way of the almighty buck.

    I am intrigued by the absence of a total chorus of MPs of any description that this is not done in public: after all, the secrecy and their inability to contribute to the negotiations and potentially binding decisions is declaring all of them more or less irrelevant. If I were an MP I'd be bloody raising hell for that alone, irrespective on which side of the fence I'd sit, and given the number of national politicians it should be possible to gather quite a crowd.

    Secrecy and democracy are diametrically opposite. Any organisation that attempts to hide terms of negotiations from those it will affect loses the right to call itself in any shape allied to democracy, and as democracy is the structure we have chosen to adopt, such negotiations should not even take place. Either go public, or come clean on the totalitarian regime this implies.

  22. The March Hare

    Voice your opinion - or not

    If you are at all interested in a (fruitless?) gesture to vote against the TTIP, see this:

    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/pages/ttip_home

  23. a pressbutton
    Black Helicopters

    Where is GCHQ/ Teresa May when you need them

    If the TPP agreement and its supporters have nothing to hide

    ... how can openness be a problem?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Signing confidential agreements on behalf of the public

    If the population of an entire Union is going to have to accept a Trade Agreement where the agreed terms are secret to them, and eventually not even public once the agreement is agreed upon,

    then there is no democracy involved. It is a decree given by a foreign power where there is no choice but accept.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Signing confidential agreements on behalf of the public

      Yep. It's called slavery.

      Try explaining to someone that they are a slave - see how far you get.

      The only people how know for real are the ones who bump into the invisible walls and pay the price - but then you don't hear much about them once they've disappeared.

  25. DerekCurrie
    Devil

    C O R P O R A T O C R A C Y

    If anyone thinks TTP and TTIP have anything to do with benefitting We The People, citizens of the world, you're wrong. It's all about the corporations, their disrespect for their customers, their demands for treating us all as Default Criminals and therefore punishing us for imaginary crimes. We are not to be trusted. We are to be parasitized.

    Oh and to hell with our elected governments. If such lame institutions do ANYTHING that compromises the profits of our corporate overlords, they get SUED in a kangaroo court of corporate lawyers as judges.

    IOW: This is where the insanity began, sad people of the future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: C O R P O R A T O C R A C Y

      Is the Isle of Wight really that bad?

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