French President Nicholas Sarkozy is backing a plan to tax Internet access. The idea is to tap this massive source of potential revenue in order to support France's state-owned television networks, which will now be commercial-free. The legislation is slated to take effect in 2009, and has already provoked violent reactions from Internet and phone providers, online entrepreneurs, consumers and users.
Death and taxes, indeed. The fact that access to the Internet has remained, almost universally, tax-free from the beginning must, I suppose, be considered an exceptional circumstance. After all, Internet access has expanded geometrically in the past couple of decades, and the income generated has increased exponentially, with more users spending more individually on a wider range of services and products. And where the money is, taxes will follow.
I hope not, though. Not in the Philippines. The "openness" of the Internet is its most valuable characteristic, over and above convenience, security or what-have-you. It's all about access. And we have little enough of that in this country