The United Nations Wants To Tax Websites
A secret proposal being debated at the United Nations, and leaked to the public just recently, would have US-based websites paying a heavy tax in order to serve people outside of the United States.
Setting aside for a moment questions about why we’d want an organization with a track record for fraud, corruption and human rights abuses as bad as the one the United Nations’ to be in charge of such a policy, this is basically digital trade protectionism. US-based companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are dominating international markets, and other countries want to knee cap them.
The European proposal, offered for debate at a December meeting of a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union, would amend an existing telecommunications treaty by imposing heavy costs on popular Web sites and their network providers for the privilege of serving non-U.S. users, according to newly leaked documents.
The documents (No. 1 No. 2) punctuate warnings that the Obama administration and Republican members of Congress raised last week about how secret negotiations at the ITU over an international communications treaty could result in a radical re-engineering of the Internet ecosystem and allow governments to monitor or restrict their citizens’ online activities.
“It’s extremely worrisome,” Sally Shipman Wentworth, senior manager for public policy at the Internet Society, says about the proposed Internet taxes. “It could create an enormous amount of legal uncertainty and commercial uncertainty.”
Perhaps the best argument against government efforts to impose new regulations or taxes on the internet is that the internet is working just fine under the guidance of coalitions of private sector interests that are running things now. The internet flat-out works. Use of the internet, even after decades, is still growing at mind-blowing rates, and the cost of accessing the internet is shrinking all the time.
The only possible justifications for government intrusion at this point are a) a desire by the government to control content/speech and b) trade protectionism.
This proposal from the UN is a combination of both.Tags: internet tax, United Nations