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The idea of ​​IT giants paying a tax for internet infrastructure is a problem

The development of internet infrastructure has given rise to a dispute between telecoms and IT giants
(photo: CC0 Public Domain)

Most EU countries have opposed the development of internet infrastructure at the expense of the tech giants. They rejected a proposal by European telecoms to force the world’s tech giants to sponsor the development of the region’s internet infrastructure, particularly 5G networks and cable broadband.

The heads of ministries related to the telecommunications sector from 18 EU countries either outright rejected the initiative to introduce a special tax or criticized it during a meeting with European Commissioner Thierry Breton in Luxembourg, which was reported by Reuters. This also corresponds to the position of the EU telecommunications regulators – the BEREC group.

It is known that Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Telecom Italia want the IT giants to compensate for part of the costs of maintaining and developing the Internet infrastructure and met with understanding from Breton, who, by the way, once held the post of head of France Telecom. For their part, Google, Apple, Meta, Netflix, Amazon and Microsoft have predictably rejected the idea of ​​such taxes, saying they are already investing in the digital ecosystem.

EU ministers stressed that there are no reliable analyzes to predict the consequences of such a measure. In particular, it is possible that the technology giants will actually shift the payment onto the shoulders of their customers by raising the prices of services.

Ministers also recalled the possibility of breaching the EU’s “net neutrality” rules, which require equal treatment of all users, no barriers to innovation and a fight against low-quality products.

Critics of the proposed tax include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta and the Netherlands. Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary and Italy supported the idea, while Poland, Portugal and Romania either took a neutral position or declined to clarify it, saying the position had not yet been formed.

By the end of June, Breton is expected to publish a report summarizing the views it has received from tech giants, telecommunications providers and other industry players to give an indication of its own intentions in this direction. Before legislative initiatives become law, they need to be agreed with the EU leadership and in particular with national legislatures.

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