By Joshua Ostrer
It’s no secret that major social networks and search engines, among others, collect data about you and your Internet activity, but what if that could be turned into a taxable commodity? France’s government thinks it might be.
The issue facing France, as well as many other European governments, is that they witness the billions of dollars made through the Internet in their countries, but the companies are often American.
France specifically has been attempting to find new ways to add revenue from the thriving Internet industry.
The French government has actually instigated a number of disputes with Google, regarding how much tax the company pays on its massive annual profits. Google France reportedly made sales of 68.7 million euros in 2010, paying 2 million euros on the 4.4 million euros of taxable income.
There seems to be little doubt that France will pursue taxing data collection at least to some extent.
“Personal Data are the fuel of the digital economy…it would seem like a natural idea to envision taxing the use of them,” said Secretary General of the CNIL, France’s data protection agency, Edouard Geffray to The New York Times.
However, there are those that strongly oppose the proposed tax, citing implications on the telecommunications market, the Internet advertising market and French companies.
Because France would be taxing international companies, the tax might just instigate international talks of defining taxation on data collection. That is something that could have wide implications across the globe.
Privacy is a crucial issue in today’s world, and France might just be the first government to address it through a tax.