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Google AT&T Government The Almighty Buck The Internet Technology

Would You Pay an Internet Broadband Tax? 601

An anonymous reader writes "Remember the Internet Tax Freedom Act? The whole point was to prevent the government from ever taxing the Internet. But that's the proposal from the FCC — and backed by companies like Google, AT&T and Sprint. Would you pay a buck or two extra for fast access — or vote for someone who thinks you should? 'If members of Congress understood that the FCC is contemplating a broadband tax, they'd sit up and take notice,' said Derek Turner, research director for Free Press, a consumer advocacy group that opposes the tax."
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Would You Pay an Internet Broadband Tax?

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  • Universal service. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:05AM (#41136707) Homepage

    If it means universal service provisions for broadband internet access, then yes.

    There are people in rural areas right now that don't have Internet access because telcos aren't willing to spend the money to run it out to them.

    Universal service provisions allowed telephone service to reach every single person in the entire country back in the day. The same thing should happen for broadband internet access today.

    • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:07AM (#41136737) Journal
      I would be fine if it added stuff like that. However chances are, it would just be corporate welfare. Companies would get money from the government, ostensibly to do or provide something, and they would provide it in at most, some token fashion (or not at all). No, I don't think this will end well for the customers/consumers/taxpayers.
      • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:46AM (#41137261) Homepage

        Yeah, seriously. "More taxes to help people" my ass. We've seen how that goes, time and time again.

        In addition to it just being corporate welfare, you can bet that it'd be more than "a buck or two". If the current tax structure is any indication, there'd be at least another 5% tax hidden in the bill.

        I live in a relatively rural area. I have no problem paying $30/month for a dribble of broadband. It's what I was paying for cable internet back in '99 for a DOCSIS 1 (unmetered) line. There's a problem with that, however: I'm still getting roughly the same downstream bandwidth, no improvement to latency, and a severely crippled upstream - a supposed 40/5 Mbit line, though I rarely see anything more than 20/2. My bill is also $50/month, with a good portion of that going to taxes already.

        These same taxes were supposed to 'improve rural broadband'. It hasn't happened. The entire western half of Wyoming has been operating on a single OC-3 conneection since the late 1990s. Weren't rural broadband initiatives, tax structures, etc supposed to improve this situation.

        Instead, most of the various telecommunication taxes have gone to fund things like free teleconference lines which get utilized (primarily) by businesses most obviously not in rural areas. This discrepancy alone is probably enough to balance out the "flyover tax burden benefit" which supposedly exists.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:10AM (#41136775) Journal

      If it means universal service provisions for broadband internet access, then yes.

      What are you some kind of socialist?

    • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:26AM (#41136999)

      I already pay a Universal Connect Fee on my phone bill which subsidize the phone company to go into rural areas. Never mind the fact that the AT&T was subsidized to put lines out there in the first place. When they came up with the Universal Connect Fee in 1997 ( 15 years ago ) they promised better communication access to rural customers. Not to mention, in October 2011 congress justified this UCF to stay on all of our phone bills by having the funds transition over to the "Connect America Fund" to subsidize broadband access in these same rural areas.

      Why the hell would I want to pay that same fee on my broadband bill? Especially since the Fee has been collected for over a decade and I see no real competition or expansion in rural connectivity since its inception.

      Sure Google, AT&T, and Sprint are for it. After all its more corporate welfare earmarked for their use. They act like they won't charge the rural customers for this access, and believe me they will.

      People who say yes to this are naive.

    • by chaboud ( 231590 )

      It is, in fact, a realignment of the Universal Service provisions. That said, I'm not okay with this going to private companies if they retain exclusive rights to the developed infrastructure. The fiber/air should be government-owned and leased to private companies (or better still, just deployed as government-owned network service).

      As we've demonstrated that forced competitive leasing by regulation is too frail (one congress can hose that up quickly), the only safe bet is persistent government ownership of

    • Universal service provisions allowed telephone service to reach every single person in the entire country back in the day. The same thing should happen for broadband internet access today.

      Yes and no. You might be surprised that "back in the day" includes the very recent past. There are some areas that just recently got telephone service. [] Hopefully some kind of time frame would be added to the language.

      And that the Universal Service Fund (USF) [] is going to transition over

      On October 27, 2011, the FCC approved a six-year transfer process that would transition money from the Universal Service Fund High-Cost Program to a new $4.5 billion a year Connect America Fund for broadband Internet expansion, effectively putting an end to the USF High-Cost Fund by 2018

      Lets hope it doesn't take as long as it did for telephony.

  • Only if ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordKaT ( 619540 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:06AM (#41136719) Homepage Journal

    Only if the money actually went to improving broadband access and speeds in America. The problem is that it just goes to the government coffers and is distributed, mostly, to Social Security.

    If the money went to directly improving the system it taxed, then yes. I would love to see a tax that helped pay for a nation-wide fiber-optic system that replaced the aged copper system we rely on.

    Unfortunately, it'll only go to lining the FCC board and chairman's pockets with money.

  • Sure why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arcite ( 661011 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:06AM (#41136727)
    I would gladly pay a small tax for super fast internet access...but the internet has to be free, no filtering, no censorship, no throttling, no blocking torrents ect. Information wants to be free, but there is no free lunch.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah they would say "yes it's only $2 and you'll get everything you want"....then a few years later they'll say "in order to give you what you want we need to charge $5"....and a year after that they'll say "in order to maintain the low $5 we need to start filtering content"....then they'll come back and say "the filtering cost money so we need $10"....and the cycle will repeat until eventually you're paying $100/mo in taxes for nothing.

  • REALLY??

    But what about all those billions that were given to the telcos to upgrade their infrastructure ???

    Whatever happened to "Your subscription fees make up for the ad revenue, so we won't have to have ads every 20 minutes" ??

    Aahahahahahhaa 'scuse me while I piss myself laughing at the blatant avarice of it all

  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:08AM (#41136749)

    If that meant "we" owned the infrastructure, not the media companies. One requirement would HAVE to be net neutrality.

    • by 1s44c ( 552956 )

      If that meant "we" owned the infrastructure, not the media companies. One requirement would HAVE to be net neutrality.

      I'm happy to pay income tax. One requirement is that the police and all other civil servants are polite and respectful to me whenever I deal with them..

      Oh, we are not in happy dream land? Guess I don't get to make demands on the thieving government then.

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:09AM (#41136763)

    I would absolutely pay for an internet tax, as long as any service receiving aid from that government tax coffer was forced to provide network neutrality by law.

    As it stands, what this is actually earmarked to pay for is probably the "lawful intercept" features that government want to add to everyone's internet.

  • No (Score:2, Insightful)

    I am European, and I think that fast Internet for free should be available to anyone in EU, as part of basic human rights. I don't care how it is technically done, but this should be long-term goal, especially for social parties, in order to prevent new kind of illiteracy of poor people.
    • Don't you have public education in Europe?

    • 'human rights'? There is no such thing as a 'human right' that is supposed to give you a product. Who is going to pay for this, if 'everybody is getting it for free' exactly?

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ACS Solver ( 1068112 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:29AM (#41137043)
      Yep, as an European, I don't get why I should pay such a tax. I pay for my own broadband connection, and while I agree that everyone should have access to the Internet, it's already available for free at libraries that are funded by my taxes anyway. So I don't get the point of a general "broadband tax".
    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:36AM (#41137137) Homepage

      I am European, and I think %anything% free should be available to anyone in EU, as part of basic human rights.

      And this is why much of Europe is broke and and the EU is on the verge of breaking up. Of course, we American's are not doing much better. But the point is that our priorities are all out of whack. Everyone seems to want something for nothing. This attitude will not last the test of time.

      • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Monday August 27, 2012 @12:10PM (#41137559)

        I am European, and I think %anything% free should be available to anyone in EU, as part of basic human rights.

        And this is why much of Europe is broke and and the EU is on the verge of breaking up. Of course, we American's are not doing much better. But the point is that our priorities are all out of whack. Everyone seems to want something for nothing. This attitude will not last the test of time.

        Funnily enough, that's not it.

        The countries in Europe with the most expansive and expensive social welfare programmes are doing relatively well. It's the countries that followed the US financial model more closely (Greece and Ireland especially, and the UK somewhat) with an over-reliance on the financial sector as the next great engine of their economies and a tax system that ensured they were sitting on a bubble that eventually burst.

        The countries that are now bailing them out are the ones with the high taxes and extensive welfare state provisions, like Germany, France and (again to a lesser extent, since we fucked up too), the UK.

        It's not welfare programmes that bankrupted certain Eurozone countries, it was the financial policies at the other end of the scale - the banks, the toxic loans, the irresponsible tax policy, financial deregulation and the shedding of manufacturing and other things that previously kept the economy going. The welfare state is the reason that we don't have a social underclass who lost everything when the economy crashed and had some support until they were able to get back to work again without losing everything they owned.

        You're also mistaken if you think "much of" Europe is broke.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by atriusofbricia ( 686672 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:57AM (#41137407) Journal

      I am European, and I think that fast Internet for free should be available to anyone in EU, as part of basic human rights. I don't care how it is technically done, but this should be long-term goal, especially for social parties, in order to prevent new kind of illiteracy of poor people.

      You cannot reasonably claim a Right to be given a service for free. As there is no such thing as anything for free, what you're really demanding is that the government use force of arms to take from one set of people and give to another.

      And people wonder why the EU is falling apart financially....

  • by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) < minus caffeine> on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:10AM (#41136779) Journal
    If paying a small tax will guarantee completely free, uncapped and non-filtered broadband with a certain reasonable speed guarantee, then yes! Otherwise, what's the point?
    • The tax controlled by the regulatory agency will not bring the freedom to the Internet. It might increase the speed at which the government can use the Internet to deliver the propaganda.
  • I mean, getting broadband isn't free, I pay my ISP for connectivity and they provide it.. and by "extra fast", my ISP has varying levels of service they can give me (subject to the technology available where I live) so I can get faster speeds by paying more money. I can also get faster speeds by changing to a cable ISP rather than a standard ADSL one, or I could even buy satellite link. If I was really rich I could pay to have fibre put into my house too.

    So, maybe this is just an Americanism. What you guys

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:15AM (#41136845)

    Don't we pay tax (like state sales tax) on internet and other services already?
    (Assuming you live in a state that has sales tax)

  • by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:16AM (#41136861)

    Sure, let's all chip in a buck.

    Maybe thirty cents goes into "administrative costs" (the inevitable bureaocracy)

    Twenty cents, at least, will be sequestered for other failing programs.

    Another forty will no doubt be pocketed by recipient telco shareholders and executives.

    Perhaps five cents will go for surveys and studies.

    Maybe, if we're lucky, a nickel will go toward the intended purpose.

    And so it goes.

  • If the government grew a pair and stood up to AT&T et al, and I was paying a reasonable price for internet and we got a speed more in line with the rest of the god damned world, then yes, I'd be more than willing to pay a tax.
    But as it is now? Hell no.
  • Already been done (Score:5, Informative)

    by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:19AM (#41136893) Journal

    Weren't the telcos already given a crapload of money to expand broadband access, which they proceeded to piss away? I'm not paying yet another tax, on top of a USF, an FCC surcharge, a tiered-pricing plan, and all of the other ways they already nickle-and-dime us to death. We are already not getting what we're paying for.

  • And that new tax revenue stream would go directly to creating a nationwide wonder network of gleaming fiber and BAH HA HA HA HA! Yeah, yeah... uh huh

    And we'll all get freshly baked cookies delivered by the new "Keebler Over Ethernet" protocols, and pretty birds singing sweet rock and roll will gives us free porn apps! And Stallman and Doctorow will put up shiny new HTML 6/Web 3.0 web sites detailing the coming enslavement of humanity because some people like the iPhone.

    Cue the ACs calling me a horrible pers

  • The Government will be taxes us for everything we do, including breathing.
  • I'm sorry but we've already been sold this bill of goods by the companies themselves. They have stated on more than one occasion that they're increasing their cost to the customers to help build infrastructure. Now some (may most) is to help solidify the existing infrastructure, we've been told that it's also for the rural expansion. Those increased costs are also taxed, so in essence, we're already taxed for the rural expansion. Heck some of our regular phone bill taxes are supposed to help support the

  • No, absolutely not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:23AM (#41136957)

    As we have seen time and again with the Universal Service Fund, big health care (Pfizer being let off the hook for defrauding Medicare because punishing them would mean delisting all of their products from Medicare) and big finance (if you cannot immediately think of five major scandals, you've not been paying attention) the big guys get government money and aren't held accountable at all. At all. So, no. Not a single red cent to them. I don't give a damn how high and noble their stated goals are. Until we have an independent prosecutor who can hang one of these companies from the nearest lamp post for taking the money and not doing precisely what the money is for, the answer is "no."

    And if you let your idealism get in the way and say "yes," you're an idiot who deserves to have your face rubbed into this when you get betrayed.

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:25AM (#41136979) Homepage

    It's called the Universal Access Fund. It's still on your telco bill.

    Why would we need yet another tax on our bill just so we can give more money to people that have demonstrated they have absolutely no intention into expanding their offerings.

    It's not like the bandwidth is not available. If you have cable, most likely you are already able to get 100/100 Mbps without much of an investment (maybe replace the modem). The fact that you don't have it is because the cable companies don't have any incentive to give you more than 10Mbps because they're the incumbent, they have been granted monopolies in most places and they will rather spend money fighting any competition than giving you more access for free.

  • This wouldn't provide extra or faster broadband. It would be a tax on urbanites to subsidize rural broadband.

    No, I would not want to see that. Let Farmer Joe pay his fair share.

  • by u-235-sentinel ( 594077 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:33AM (#41137099) Homepage Journal []

    I've been hearing about this for years but I was under the impression we already paid for 45 Meg up/down under the clinton presidency and while the telco's have been taking tax money for this, they still haven't built out the infrastructure we should have had several years ago.

    Anyone know more about this?

    It was also my understanding that the National Information Infrastructure was a result of the High Performance computing act of 1991 under Clinton and Gore. []

    So I have to ask. Why pay for more when we've been paying for it since 1991? I'm curious if other's can help me understand if I've misread what the act is supposed to do.

  • and then call the lobbyists and take the money and sell us out. Any idea that this is going to provide ubitquitous broadband service nationwide is a (pardon the pun) pipe dream. And once the tax is in place, it's never going away.
  • by silverhalide ( 584408 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:36AM (#41137131)

    I mean, because obviously we have no sources of funding from our other taxes, so might as well start a new one, right?

    Because it's just damn impossible to find funding in the rest of the budget stemming from:

    Accounts Receivable Tax, Accumulated Earnings Tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, Aviation Fuel Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Cement and Gypsum Producers License Tax, Cigarette Tax, Coal Severance Tax, Coal Gross Proceeds Tax, Consumer Counsel Tax, Consumption Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Corporation License Tax, Electrical Energy Producers Tax, Estate Tax, Inheritance, Federal Income Tax, Federal Unemployment Tax, Fishing License Tax, Food Service License Tax, Fuel Permit License Tax, Gasoline Tax (8 to 35 cents per gallon), Generation-skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Gross Production Tax, Hospital Facility Utilization Fee Tax, Hunting License Fee Tax, Inventory Tax, IRS Penalties Tax, Land Value Tax, Liquor License Tax, Liquor Tax, Local Tax, Lodging Facility Use Tax, Luxury Tax, Marriage License Tax, Medicare Tax,Metal Mines Gross Proceeds Tax, Metal Mines License Tax, Miscellaneous Mineral Mines License Tax, Miscellaneous Mines Net Proceeds Tax, Nursing Facility Bed Tax, Oil and Natural Gas Production Tax, Payroll Tax, Professional PrivilegeTax, Property Tax, Proxy Tax, Public Contractor's Gross Receipts Tax, Public Service Commission Tax, Public Utility Tax, Real Estate Tax, Real Estate Transfer Tax, Rental Vehicle Sales Tax,Resort Tax, Resource Indemnity and Groundwater Assessment Tax, Retail Telecommunications Excise Tax, Sales Tax, School Tax, Self-Employment Tax, Septic Permit Tax, Severance Tax, Social Security Tax, State Income Tax, State Unemployment Tax, Statewide Emergency Telephone 911 System Fee Tax, Surtax Tax, Tariffs, Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, TDD Telecommunications Service Fee Tax, Tobacco Products Tax (Other than Cigarettes), Toll Road Fee Tax, Toll Bridge Fee Tax, Toll Tunnel Fee Tax, Tonnage Tax, Traffic Fines, Trailer Registration Fee Tax, Use Tax, Vehicle Registration and License Tax, Vehicle Sales Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax, Well Permit Tax, Wholesale Energy Transaction Tax, Workers Compensation Tax.

    We are taxed to death.

  • I pay a tax when I earn money (income tax).
    Then I pay an extra tax when I spend those taxed money (VAT).
    Then I pat for goods/services themselves.

    So, what'd be the point for this extra tax? Pointless!
    If I want super fast giggo broadband, I buy premium.
    If I want normal, I buy vanilla. That's it.

  • by Cute Fuzzy Bunny ( 2234232 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @12:13PM (#41137605)

    Given that we're still paying a tax on our telephones that originated from the Spanish American War, I think we're taxed more than enough right now, thanks.

    Plus it appears that fully 50% or more of my tax dollars goes to pork or horseshit that nobody cares about. Well, nobody that isn't a billionaire.

  • by SkOink ( 212592 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @01:30PM (#41138783) Homepage

    I'm not fundamentally opposed to paying a broadband tax, but what would I get for it? I would happily pay a 5% tax if it meant that my broadband received government-imposed price controls, minimum bandwidth guarantees, and net neutrality.

  • by thereitis ( 2355426 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @01:35PM (#41138861) Journal

    I thought Internet access was already "taxed" in the form of ad banners and being spied upon by various government and corporate entities.

    Also, that people already pay for more faster access and higher bandwidth caps.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.