The Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, or TPP, is an international trade deal so secretive that legislators reviewing its text were told that they aren't allowed to take notes. Today, WikiLeaks announced a campaign to raise $100,000 worth of pledges for a bounty that will go to anyone who can produce the text of the agreement to date.
Virtually everything the public knows about the TPP—that it would allow corporations to sue governments for harming their profit margins and prevent countries from requiring that their citizens' data be stored locally, for example—comes from three leaked chapters out of a total of 29, all released by WikiLeaks. The crowdsourcing campaign, which has already raised more than $23,000 in pledges, is meant to entice someone with access to release the remaining chapters.
"The transparency clock has run out on the TPP. No more secrecy," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement. "No more excuses. Let's open the TPP once and for all."
The Wikileaks campaign to provide a bounty for TPP leaks marks the launch of what WikiLeaks describes as a new "competition system." According to the organization, the program will allow the public to pledge towards the leaks that they most want to see. It's worth noting that these are just pledges to donate, and do not reflect actual monetary donations to a bounty fund. I pledged $5 myself, and didn't have to fork over any money.
In 2013, an organization called Just Foreign Policy attempted to raise a bounty for TPP leaks through similar means and claimed to have received more than $75,000 in pledges. But, since pledges don't actually mean anything on their own, they received a ton of bogus pledges and had to pare their initial figures down, which numbered in the billions.
Bounty-raising methods aside, the situation regarding public knowledge about the TPP is especially urgent since the US Senate passed a bill in May allowing President Barack Obama and his successors to "fast track" trade agreements, reducing Congress' input to a simple yes-no vote. The debate is now headed to the House of Representatives.
The secrecy surrounding the text of the TPP has thus far resulted in a game of rhetorical cat and mouse between critics and people involved in negotiations, which include government officials and corporate stakeholders.
For every critic, due to the secret nature of the document, there is the blanket retort, as President Barack Obama stated, that "they don't know what they're talking about." With $100,000 potentially on the line for the full text of the TPP, that could soon change.