In Asia, Focus On Big Tech Regs And Taxes


Scrutiny of tech firms is spreading across the globe, hinting at broader regulations over privacy and, possibly, bigger tax bills.

To that end, in Southeast Asia, a number of countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, are looking to regulatory actions that will levy more taxes on marquee tech names, such as Google, as they do business in that region.

Reuters noted this past week that such approaches would take place through a unified effort.

“Together, we are 80 percent of the region,” Indonesian Communications Minister Rudiantara told the newswire.

In one example, Indonesia is “already preparing legislation” that would require tech companies with online services to pay value-added tax on local sales, the report noted.

The tax would be in force even when the companies are located offshore.

Beyond the efforts in Indonesia, Thailand is, through its telecom regulator, proposing that the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (otherwise known as ASEAN) require internet and streaming video companies to set up domestic “verification centers” to help vet content. Reuters said Thailand is also examining how to extract “economic contributions” from tech firms, perhaps through taxes.

Libra, Too

In Asia, regulators continue to call for more details and frameworks for cryptocurrencies, perhaps most visibly Libra, the Facebook and consortium-backed digital coin that has been the focus of no end of controversy.

As reported last week, Haruhiko Kuroda, the Bank of Japan governor, on Tuesday, said that international regulators must cooperate when it comes to regulating stablecoins like Libra, Reuters reported.

Kuroda said that “If Libra is introduced, it could have a huge impact on society.”

In other Libra news, Bertrand Perez – the managing director of the Geneva-based Libra Association – an independent organization meant to oversee Facebook’s proposed digital currency, said that due to regulatory issues, the cryptocurrency might not be released by June of next year (2020) as has been proposed as a target launch date.

“When we (made) the announcement in June, that was our North Star,” Perez said. “What is important is that we need to comply with the regulators and … make sure that they are on board with us and fully comfortable with our solutions. We knew that we would have to answer lots of questions coming from regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, and from other parts of the world.”

David Marcus, the Facebook exec overseeing the project, said 2020 is still the target date. “The goal is still to launch Libra next year,” he told Swiss newspaper NZZ this week. “Until then, we’ll need to address all questions adequately, create a suitable regulatory environment.”

On Privacy

With a nod toward privacy regulation, this past week saw the European Union’s top court ruling that Google need not extend the “right to be forgotten” across the globe.

As reported, the court has ruled that the search and tech giant need only sever links from search results tied to Europe when demanded to do so by individuals.

As reported by BBC, the ruling last week is tied to a dispute between Google and French regulators, known as CNIL.

"Currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject … to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine," the European Court of Justice ruling said.

As mandated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), users can request that links be removed.



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