U.N. Considers Internet Tax On Web Companies

With global growth at risk, top Web companies are reportedly facing the threat of an “Internet tax” -- and from the least likely of bodies: the United Nations.

That’s right, the U.N. “is considering a new Internet tax targeting the largest Web content providers, including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Netflix, that could cripple their ability to reach users in developing nations,” reports CNet.

Offered for debate at a December meeting of a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union, the European proposal reportedly seeks to levy U.S. companies for the bandwidth they use outside of the States.

“In response, Cisco VP Robert Pepper has argued that any such charge could cause Web services to block queries from developing nations, ‘effectively cutting them off from the internet,’ ” Engadget writes.

Last week, as The Hill’s Hillicon Valley blog reported, a bipartisan coalition in Congress laid down a clear marker in opposition to growing calls for the United Nations to have more control over the global Internet.

“What this really highlights is the true problem here, which is that whatever happens here is happening behind the scenes, in backrooms, without public scrutiny,” notes TechDirt. “Just as we've seen with ACTA, TPP, SOPA and lots of other things, a big part of the problem is the near total lack of transparency in what's being discussed around these ideas.”

“The Internet has flourished outside of government control,” Jason Llorenz, executive director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, reasons on The Huffington Post.“The private sector has fostered innovation and enabled educational, health and entertainment opportunities to reach people around the world.”

The motion is expected to be discussed at a December meeting of the ITU council, where all 193 member-countries will be allowed to vote.

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