ITU to consider Facebook-tax


The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is planning to institute a tax on content-heavy services like Facebook and Netflix, which will effectively see the companies pay for the bandwidth they use outside of the US.

Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secrettary General (image: file)

“Tabled by lobbyists representing Europe’s biggest cellphone networks, the proposal suggests that Google and others should shoulder some of the cost of bringing their services to customers in the rest of the world,” Engadget wrote.

“Operating Agencies shall endeavour to provide sufficient telecommunications facilities to meet requirements of and demand for international telecommunication services. For this purpose, and to ensure an adequate return on investment in high bandwidth infrastructures, operating agencies shall negotiate commercial agreements to achieve a sustainable system of fair compensation for telecommunications services and, where appropriate, respecting the principle of sending party network pays,” the leaked document stated.

But naturally not everybody is happy about the proposed idea. Cisco’s Vice President Robert Pepper said if it goes ahead, it will cause web services to block queries from developing nations. He added that it will “effectively (be) cutting them off from the internet”.

“It’s extremely worrisome,” said Sally Shipman Wentworth, senior manager for public policy at the Internet Society. “It could create an enormous amount of legal uncertainty and commercial uncertainty.”

The proposal will be discussed at the next ITU council meeting, which is scheduled to take place in December, and all 193 member countries will be given an opportunity to vote on the proposal.

The leaked PDF document can be viewed here.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor