Originally published: February 25, 2013
Last updated: February 26, 2013 - 1:17am
France is considering a proposal to tax the collection of personal data on the Internet.
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. Nicolas Colin, one of the authors of a report in which the idea of taxing data collection was floated in January, said the immediate goal would be to promote sound practices for data collection and protection. While the report does not specify how much revenue the tax would yield, Mr. Colin said it would probably be minimal. Like other European countries, France has been frustrated by its inability to raise significant tax revenue from the billions of dollars in sales and profits that Internet companies, many of them American, generate in Europe every year. And despite so-called austerity measures, budget deficits remain large. “Every government needs revenues,” Mr. Colin, a government auditor and technology entrepreneur, said in an interview. “If they can’t get them from the most profitable companies, then they have to get them from the rest of us — individual taxpayers and smaller, struggling companies.”
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