UN To Discuss Taxing The Internet


The International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations, will decide later in the year whether or not an internet tax should be levied.  The point of the new tax is to impose fees on content providers like Google or Apple for sending data to consumers outside the US.  The idea is being pushed by a group from Europe called the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association which is based out of Brussels, Belgium.  This excerpt below gives the European argument for the tax.

“European network providers and phone companies have been bitterly complaining about U.S. content-providing companies for some time. France Telecom, Telecom Italia, and Vodafone Group, want to “require content providers like Apple and Google to pay fees linked to usage,” Bloomberg reportedlast December.

ETNO refers to it as the “principle of sending party network pays” — an idea borrowed from the system set up to handle payments for international phone calls, where the recipient’s network set the per minute price. If its proposal is adopted, it would spell an end to the Internet’s long-standing, successful design based on unmetered “peered” traffic, and effectively tax content providers to reach non-U.S. Internet users.”

Everyone knows that the Europeans never met a tax they did not like and with the situation in Europe deteriorating by the day it should come as no surprise that they are looking anywhere and everywhere for new streams of revenue.  The article makes note how many governments around the world are interested in the tax as a way to make up for lost revenue from the decline in traditional overseas calls which have been replaced by things like skype.  More disturbing is that some governments view the proposal as a way to help governments block access to certain web content giving them greater control over what their citizens are able to view online.  I don’t know about you but anytime the words tax, european, and United Nations are used in the same sentence I tend to get a little wary.

U.N. debates tax on U.S.-based Web sites