Internet Tax Freedom Act a win for U.S. legislation
The news circuit is currently dominated with ways it is believed the American government is failing citizens who use the Internet – the raging net neutrality debate still dominates the headlines, and few victories have been noted in recent months. For those who have been seeking out a positive development for the people, an encouraging development has emerged through legislation on the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"This means that America's more than 9,600 state and local tax collectors can't create Internet-only taxes that don't exist off-line," the WSJ report detailed. "The law has prevented new taxes on Internet access services and email and thus has allowed Web commerce to serve consumers with innovation."
This discussion has resurfaced in Congress as the bill preventing the tax, originally put into place during the tail end of the Clinton administration in 1998, expires at the beginning of November. Since its original proposition, the American internet-using community has expanded to 200 million citizens who use the service on a daily basis, and its overturning would allow major Internet Service Providers to tack on an additional tax.
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, proposed the indefinite extension of the Act and has been backed up by 138 Republicans and 76 Democrats and co-sponsored by 138 Republicans and 76 Democrats- WSJ explained that this does not prevent any additional sales taxes, but "simply prohibits multiple and discriminatory taxes online."
Good press that comes at an uncertain time
If the Act is extended as the media seems to think it will be, American Congress will likely have some positive press when the FCC net neutrality debate ramps up in the fall. 2014 has already been a tumultuous year for internet freedom globally, and between constantly fluctuating international policies in Russia and Turkey and the net neutrality conflict in America, and it is likely that Congress will hang its hat on the consumer advocacy the Internet Tax Freedom Act implies.
US News & World Report writer Tom Risen reported on attitudes on international internet freedom in the U.S. in a recent piece, and revealed that while the Act is in good standing, many official policies remain in flux. The Obama administration has expressed interest in keeping the U.S. at the core of Internet legislation to promote global internet freedom, but does not want to implement an intergovernmental department to accomplish this goal. Republican senator Sean Duffy has publicly opposed this stance, and expressed the view that refusing to relace the Commerce Department's current role with government involvement will hinder the growth of internet freedom.
"We should not give up our stewardship of the Internet so that the United Nations or countries like China or Russia, that do not hold free speech in the same regard, can have the opportunity to take control," Duffy said according to the US News & World Report piece.
Though internet freedom remains on shaky ground in many areas of the world, open discussion has continued between legislators and citizens as the first to keep the web open to all opinions continues to develop. The Federal Communications Commission has opened their website to comments from all Americans in regards to the net neutrality debate and the state of internet freedom in the country until mid-September before internal discussion of Internet Service Provider policy continues through the end of the year. At the present time, web consumers can take comfort in the fact that their bills won't be going up any time soon and have the ability to speak out against pending policies.