By: Steve Watson
Big government pushes for total taxation and restriction on the last great outpost of free speech
Recent proposals in the U.S. Congress are taking a huge swipe at freedom in America once again by aiming to impose multiple different forms of crippling taxation and restriction on users of the internet.
State and local governments this week resumed a push to lobby Congress for far-reaching changes on two different fronts: gaining the ability to impose sales taxes on Net shopping, and being able to levy new monthly taxes on DSL and other Internet-service connections. One senator is even predicting taxes on e-mail, reports CNet.
Several bills were introduced last week that could see all manner of new forms of internet taxation become a reality before the end of the year.
Sen. Michael Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, introduced a bill (PDF link) for mandatory sales tax collection for Internet purchases, meaning that if you buy items through online sites like eBay or Amazon.com, you might have to start paying additional sales taxes on your purchases.
The Libertarian party has warned that the bill represents more big government intervention and that while Enzi insists the bill "would not increase taxes," the Sales Tax Fairness and Simplification Act would open the door for states to charge sales tax on Internet sales. In contrast to his statement, the C-Net article states that Enzi warned that other taxes may zoom upward if his "mandatory sales tax collection" bill isn't passed.
In a second and separate proposal during a House of Representatives hearing last week, politicians weighed whether to let a temporary ban on internet access taxes lapse when it expires on November 1.
Such a move would leave open the possibility that simply using the internet would require a tax to be paid which critics suggest could sound a death knell for broadband, DSL and "always on" high speed internet.
Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia compared the move to taxing people for simply entering shopping malls or libraries. With the U.S. economy already under considerable strain, taking a huge swipe at e-commerce, one of its cornerstones, seems like the worst possible thing Congress could do.
Furthermore, allowing taxation on internet access represents a slippery slope towards opening up the possibilities of taxing all kinds of internet based services.
"They might say, 'We have no interest in having taxes on e-mail,' but if we allow the prohibition on Internet taxes to expire, then you open the door on cities and towns and states to tax e-mail or other aspects of Internet access," said Sen. John Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican.
An email tax would certainly suit both the government and internet providers who would likely get a cut. Last year it was revealed that AOL is planning to charge mass-emailers a fee to avoid the ISP's spam filters and guarantee that their marketing emails arrive straight in AOL subscribers' inboxes. Yahoo! is also endorsing the scheme.
Under such a system email considered "uncertified" would risk running through AOL and Yahoo!'s discrimination process. And as this potential profit center for the two net giants takes off, there's no incentive for either company to deliver the "free email" - and every incentive for them to get the world conditioned to paying for guaranteed delivery.
A United Nations agency also proposed in 1999 the idea of a 1-cent-per-100-message tax, indicating that the idea has been floating around for almost a decade.
In recent months, a chorus of propaganda intended to demonize the Internet and further lead it down a path of strict control has spewed forth from numerous establishment organs:
Time magazine reported last month that researchers funded by the federal government want to shut down the internet and start over, citing the fact that at the moment there are loopholes in the system whereby users cannot be tracked and traced all the time. The projects echo moves we have previously reported on to clamp down on internet neutrality and even to designate a new form of the internet known as Internet 2.
In a display of bi-partisanship, there have recently been calls for all out mandatory ISP snooping on all US citizens by both Democrats and Republicans alike.
Republican Senator John McCain recently tabled a proposal to introduce legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards. It is well known that McCain has a distaste for his blogosphere critics, causing a definite conflict of interest where any proposal to restrict blogs on his part is concerned.
During an appearance with his wife Barbara on Fox News last November, George Bush senior slammed Internet bloggers for creating an "adversarial and ugly climate."
The White House's own recently de-classified strategy for "winning the war on terror" targets Internet conspiracy theories as a recruiting ground for terrorists and threatens to "diminish" their influence.
The Pentagon recently announced its effort to infiltrate the Internet and propagandize for the war on terror.
In a speech last October, Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff identified the web as a "terror training camp," through which "disaffected people living in the United States" are developing "radical ideologies and potentially violent skills." His solution is "intelligence fusion centers," staffed by Homeland Security personnel which will go into operation next year.
The U.S. Government wants to force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress. Criminal charges including a possible jail term of up to one year could be the punishment for non-compliance.
A landmark legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations seeks to criminalize all Internet file sharing of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web - and their argument is supported by the U.S. government.
A landmark legal ruling in Sydney goes further than ever before in setting the trap door for the destruction of the Internet as we know it and the end of alternative news websites and blogs by creating the precedent that simply linking to other websites is breach of copyright and piracy.
The European Union, led by former Stalinist and potential future British Prime Minister John Reid, has also vowed to shut down "terrorists" who use the Internet to spread propaganda.
The EU data retention bill, passed last year after much controversy and with implementation tabled for late 2007, obliges telephone operators and internet service providers to store information on who called who and who emailed who for at least six months. Under this law, investigators in any EU country, and most bizarrely even in the US, can access EU citizens' data on phone calls, sms', emails and instant messaging services.
The EU also recently proposed legislation that would prevent users from uploading any form of video without a license.
The US government is also funding research into social networking sites and how to gather and store personal data published on them, according to the New Scientist magazine. "At the same time, US lawmakers are attempting to force the social networking sites themselves to control the amount and kind of information that people, particularly children, can put on the sites."
The development of a new form of internet with new regulations is also designed to create an online caste system whereby the old internet hubs would be allowed to break down and die, forcing people to use the new taxable, censored and regulated world wide web.
Make no mistake, the internet, one of the greatest outposts of free speech ever created is under constant attack by powerful people who cannot operate within a society where information flows freely and unhindered. Both American and European moves mimic stories we hear every week out of State Controlled Communist China, where the internet is strictly regulated and virtually exists as its own entity away from the rest of the web.
The Internet is freedom's best friend and the bane of control freaks. Its eradication is one of the short term goals of those that seek to centralize power and subjugate their populations under a surveillance panopticon prison.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2007
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