Regulation

New Digital Taxes Loom On Tech Firms In Europe

digital taxes

Amid the continuing drumbeat for taxes on global commerce done through digital means, the Czech government has approved a new seven percent digital tax on global Internet firms which will, as Reuters reports, be levied on revenues tied to Czech users across advertising, digital marketplaces and data sales.  Czechoslovakia becomes only one of latest in a sting of European countries that are implementing, or will seek to implement digital taxes.

Those countries include Italy and France, as has been reported.

The Czech tax is aimed at firms like Facebook, Google and others that have more than $750 million in global revenues, and derive at least 3.9 million in sales from Czechoslovakia.  The business services must also reach at least 200,000 accounts in the Czech market.

The news comes the same week that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development hopes to have new rules for “the taxation of digital companies” in place as early as the beginning of next year. Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the OECD, commented on the timeline this past Monday at the Fortune Global Forum in Paris, as reported by Fortune.com.

“Though big tech wasn’t specifically mentioned, the message was clear: Silicon Valley companies are likely to owe more taxes in Europe and elsewhere,” the site noted.

Beyond Taxes, a Copyright Controversy

To that end, in France a number of media enterprises — ranging from the APIG press alliance, which represents dozens of national and regional papers, to AFP and the union of magazine editors — have filed complaints with EU regulators over copyright laws.

The groups charge that their content is protected by copyrights, and that according to the cases filed with the country’s competition authority, Google is allegedly abusing its position within the market.

Sites such as liistudio.com reported that, per laws passed by France, publishers are to be compensated when their content is displayed online.  Google has said that content will show up in search results only if the media groups agree to let Google use the content for free.  The tech giant has said in a statement that “Google helps web end users find information content material from several resources and the successes are often based on relevance, not trade agreements.”

Health Records and Google

Separately, and in the states, a number of US senators — including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — have written a letter to Google that, as reported by Reuters, questions the access Google has to the medical records of millions of Americans.

As reported, Google is in a partnership with Ascension Health.  The latter firm operates 150 hospitals and 50 senior living facilities across the U.S. Ascension also is Google’s largest health care cloud computing customer.  The senators want information about whether health care data might be used for advertising or other purposes.

Google has, in the past, said that patient data “cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data.”

In Japan, Crypto Scrutiny

And in Japan, cryptocurrencies are getting fresh scrutiny,  This past week the deputy governor of the Bank of Japan said that digital currency operators must satisfy regulations around money laundering and risk management ahead of starting operations.  Reuters noted the remarks were aimed at Libra, the crypto slated to be launched via consortium that includes Facebook as early as next year.

Reuters reported that the remarks made by Masayoshi Amamiya, the central banker, included the observation that “the global user base could be enormous” for a digital currency like Libra.  He also said there are no immediate plans in place for Japan to launch a digital currency of its own.

 

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