French Tax Proposal Zeroes in on Web Giants’ Data Harvest

The New York Times reports on the proposal to tax data collection with the goal of promoting sound practices for gathering and protecting information. French auditor Nicolas Colin, introduced the idea based on European countries’ frustrations with their inability to collect tax revenue from Internet companies generating significant income each year, especially as budget deficits loom. “Every government needs revenues,” Colin said, adding the individual taxpayer and small companies carry the burden if large corporations do not. Google and Facebook know that John Doe “likes” wine, is shopping for a Volkswagen and often e-mails Jane Doe. The new idea would require the companies to pay for gathering that information. While business plans built on mining consumers’ personal information from the Internet are proliferating, so are concerns about the use of the data. Colin’s tax plan would reward companies for providing their customers with useful information, while penalizing those that did not do so. Although the government commissioned the report, it is not an official policy document, and the finance ministry has yet to take a position on the idea.

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