The Never-Ending Net Neutrality Wars: Telecom Giants Push for Big Tech Tax
European telecom giants have been pushing for a tax on Big Tech company profits for the past year. They’ve tried to dress it up as a reasonable policy proposal, but it’s effectively just the same thing we saw during the U.S. net neutrality wars: telecom monopolies demanding other people pay them an additional toll—for no coherent reason.
To sell captured lawmakers on the idea, telecom giants have falsely claimed that Big Tech companies get a “free ride” on the Internet (just as they did during the U.S. net neutrality wars). To fix this problem they completely made up, Big Telecom argues Big Tech should be forced to help pay for the kind of broadband infrastructure upgrades the telecoms have routinely neglected for years.
It’s a big, dumb con. But yet again, telecom lobbyists have somehow convinced regulators that this blind cash grab is somehow sensible, adult policy. Dutifully, European Commission’s industry chief Thierry Breton (himself a former telecom exec) said last September he would launch a consultation on this “fair share” payment scheme in early 2023, ahead of any proposed legislation.
Hoping to steer Breton away from the idea, The European Internet Exchange Association, a coalition of key transit companies, recently warned that trying to sock tech giants with arbitrary polls would result in a less stable internet overall, as companies try to route their traffic around ISPs looking for an extra buck.
Similarly, Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Micky Adriaansens is warning Breton that tech giants will simply offload the higher costs of internet access to consumers (something we’re already seeing in South Korea where such a proposal has already been implemented at telecom lobbyist demand).
Regulators worldwide are increasingly looking for ways to bridge the “digital divide” and shore up subsidy funding for broadband expansion. But they’re often not looking at the real problem. Both in the EU and North America, regulators routinely and mindlessly let telecom giants consolidate and monopolize an essential utility. Those monopolies then work tirelessly to drive up rates and crush competition. And, utilizing their lobbying power, they’ve also routinely gleamed billions in subsidies for networks they routinely half-complete.
Serious reform would involve embracing policies that challenge monopolization, and engage in meaningful subsidy reform—ensuring that the billions we give telecom giants first actually go toward meaningful network improvements. Once you’ve done that, you can focus on additional funding mechanisms if they actually make sense.
Instead, EU regulators have decided to embrace a plan that involves Big Tech giving Big Telecom billions of additional dollars for no coherent reason. All while EU providers like Telefonica pretend that erecting these new tolls will result in “top-notch digital infrastructure” and are “key to our future quality of life, prosperity, and competitiveness.”
If the EU successfully implements such a scheme, you can be absolutely sure the next step will be the U.S., with captured regulators like Brendan Carr (who has been beating this idiotic drum for a few years now) at the front of the parade at Comcast’s and AT&T’s behest.
Big Telecom’s Tax Plan for ‘Big Tech’ Backfires: Dutch Officials Issue Urgent Warning!
The Dutch government has issued an urgent warning against a proposed tax plan by Big Telecom to impose taxes on ‘Big Tech’ companies. The plan is aimed at taxing companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon for advertising revenue earned from Dutch consumers using their services.
According to the Dutch government, the proposed tax plan is not only unfair but could also have serious implications for both consumers and businesses in the country. The government has warned that if the tax plan is implemented, it could lead to a severe reduction in the availability of online services in the Netherlands. This could severely impact the country’s digital economy, which is heavily reliant on the internet.
The tax plan, which was proposed by Big Telecom companies in the Netherlands, including KPN, Vodafone, and T-mobile, aimed to compensate for the revenue loss they experienced due to the shift in advertising revenue from traditional advertising channels to online advertising channels. However, the plan appears to have backfired as Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have threatened to withdraw their online services from the Dutch market if the tax is imposed.
As such, the Dutch government has put its weight behind Big Tech, warning that the proposed tax plan could have ‘unforeseen consequences’ for both the country’s economy and its citizens’ access to online services. The government has, instead, called for a fairer approach to digital taxation that considers the interests and concerns of all stakeholders.
The Dutch government’s warning comes at a time when many European countries are ramping up their efforts to curb the power of Big Tech companies, including through new tax initiatives. However, the Dutch case shows that such measures can have unintended consequences, leading to adverse outcomes, rather than the intended outcomes.
In conclusion, the Dutch government’s intervention in the proposed tax plan by Big Telecom to tax Big Tech companies is a welcome move. It sends a clear message that the digital economy is complex, and any attempts to address its challenges must be carefully considered and balanced. Going forward, governments must work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to achieve a fair and equitable system that ensures the continued growth and development of the digital economy.