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Taxing access to social networks, is it possible?

to compensate For the possible abolition of the television licence fee, the idea of a levy on each connection that has been issued by a member of parliament dur

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Taxing access to social networks, is it possible?

to compensate For the possible abolition of the television licence fee, the idea of a levy on each connection that has been issued by a member of parliament during questions to the government. But such a measure would be applicable ?

This is a track of reflection undertaken without great preparation, but that made a lot of noise. Tuesday, 11 February, during the traditional questions of the government, the mp related MoDem of Meurthe-et-Moselle Laurent Garcia took the floor to relay the concerns of his constituents. Addressing the minister of Culture, Franck Riester, the elected official has floated the idea of a tax on the access to social networks to compensate for the eventual elimination of the contribution to public broadcasting (CAP).

This should be a simple draft was taken everywhere as a concrete proposal. "It is extremely difficult to put in place," recognizes from the outset, Laurent Garcia, who wanted to "question the government". According to him, this new tax would help combat the hate speech circulating on digital platforms. But its operation, still vague, is not stopped. It could take the form of a levy on each connection. "This device raises the question of anonymity.

To raise the tax, we are going to force people to create authenticated accounts," notes Christiane Féral-Schuhl, a lawyer specialized in new technology law and president of the national bar Council.

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From a technical point of view, the device could also be very complicated to implement. "We will ask companies in the digital sector to collect the connection information. If they are based abroad, which is the case for most, this will make the task even more difficult", believes Frédéric Douet, professor of tax law at the university of Rouen-Normandy. At the time Bruno The Mayor and the government are trying at all costs to maintain the tax Gafa, the idea of wearing a new tax on the backs of the French may not be able to pass.

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"This system relies on the Gafa that in terms of taxation are already quite reluctant," notes Laurence Calandri, master of conferences at the university of Toulouse. All the more that such a tax could have an impact on the users. "Often, people have the impression that these services are free of charge. But when it's free, and they are the products. One could imagine an increase in advertising," stresses Frédéric Douet.

A failure in Uganda

The idea launched by Laurent Garcia is not new. It has in any case been in vogue in 2018 in Africa, where Uganda was the first country on the continent to put in place a tax similar. Yoweri Museveni, the president of this country of Africa Has been in power for nearly 35 years, has introduced 1 July 2018 a levy on the use of social networks. Every citizen of uganda who wishes to use Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp, must pay a tax daily of 0.04 euro. This sum may seem derisory, but it adds to the cost already very high internet connection.

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"This has been extremely poorly received. We are talking about a country where the internet penetration rate has increased in proportion over the last ten years. It is a tool of communication with the outside, and very often a work tool," says Julie Owono, director of the NGO Internet sans frontières. According to a study by the uganda communications Commission, three months after the introduction of the tax, the number of internet users has fallen more than 12%, from 18.5 million to 13.5 million. Even worse : taxpayers have ceased gradually to pay the amount requested. The government set the goal of raising more than € 70 million in a year. The fee has just reported that approximately 12 million euros in the first year.

Of the VPN to get around the system

This tax was in fact not a new way to replenish the coffers of the State. Yoweri Museveni had before, put in place this tax to restrict access to the new means of communication and avoid the "gossip" on social networks. A way to control the information circulating about him and his government. The ugandan politics was echoed in Zambia, where a similar measure has been decided. In Benin, an order was published before it can be withdrawn in the face of the anger of the people.

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To work around these restrictive measures, many users have opted for VPN. This system allows you to hide the IP address and not be subject to the restrictions of a country on the internet. "In the case of France, of course, that in the face of such a liberticidal, the use of a VPN would greatly increase," says Julie Owono.

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In 2012, the Tobin tax on financial transactions came into force. It aimed in particular at the high-frequency trading. As a result, the operations have just been moved to other countries to avoid paying the tax. "It is always the concours Lépine tax, people launch ideas without thinking about the repercussions and circumstances techniques", critical Frédéric Douet.

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