The Coalition for taxing the Internet

June 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

There’s a group called the Coalition for Better Broadcasting, but a better name would be the Coalition for Taxing the Internet.

They want to tax Internet users, through our ISPs, to fund their pet projects. Their argument is that people should be forced to fund content they don’t like:

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a double obligation – they profit in the culture space and they pay nothing for the content (websites, apps etc) they provide access to. In NZ there are many websites, videos and blogs made on the smell of an oily rag. Audiences flock to these sites but their money goes to the ISP. A levy on ISPs would close the loop creating an online eco-system that actually benefits everyone.

So remember this if you hear the CBB advocate for something. They are advocating to tax the Internet to pay for their pet projects. Think of the awful precedent it would set. Why stop at broadcasting. Let’s tax the Internet to pay for bookstores. Let’s tax the Internet to fund bands. Let’s tax the Internet to fund theatre and plays.

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42 Responses to “The Coalition for taxing the Internet”

  1. Ed Snack (1,835 comments) says:

    Is that a Green or a Labour party funded initiative ? They’re still claiming that the Australian ABC has been “gutted” by a cut of approx $40M over 4 years, that is, folks $40M out of $4000M plus, so less than 1%. Not so much a gutting as perhaps a very light haircut without a blow-wave.

    It seems to be a standard “tax someone else so I can indulge in my own propaganda fantasy’s” sort of organization. Never get my support, bastards.

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  2. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Let’s just tax the internet.

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  3. Rich Prick (1,659 comments) says:

    The “Coalition for Better Broadcasting” has a television director specialising in “reality” and “factual” television genres as CEO, oh the irony.

    Do have a look at the list of trustees though, that should assist with understanding where this out-fit is coming from.

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  4. Rex Widerstrom (5,346 comments) says:

    While it makes no sense for an ISP to fund broadcasting, come to think of it… how much traffic is generated by people visiting Whaleoil or Kiwiblog and what’s its value to the visitors’ ISPs? Since most still insist on artificially limiting downloads per month, a measurable proportion of what they’re charging customers for is attributable to their wishing to consume what DPF & Cam & his team are producing.

    It does seem unfair that they’re limited to monetising their work only through advertising. Perhaps they should be able to submit their server logs to ISPs and charge for the traffic they’re pulling?

    Yes that’s pie-in-the-sky, but it irks me that a lot of people do provide content I find compelling, yet the people who profit from that are those who simply maintain a server farm and some cabling. It’s like going to a restaurant because I like the food, but having to pay a door charge – well in excess of whatever the restaurant receives from my visit – to the landlord.

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  5. George Patton (353 comments) says:

    A charitable trust, with ex Green MP Sue Kedgely involved. Sort of wrecks things from the outset.

    Whaleoil will need to watch this one like a hawk to ensure this “charitable organisation” doesn’t get too political, lest it might breach the rules.

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  6. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    At the same time there are a huge amount of elite who want to promote free internet world wide.

    It is a web and how can they spy on us if search tools are limited to those who can afford it.

    I predict paying tax for internet will drop like a lead balloon.

    I’m actually surprised taxless internet hasn’t been in the National Party political manifesto this year.

    But wait…we still got a few months for surprises lol.

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  7. RightNow (6,968 comments) says:

    Rex, “how much traffic is generated by people visiting Whaleoil or Kiwiblog and what’s its value to the visitors’ ISPs?”

    The answer is actually 3/5 of fuck all. Blog posts are small data, you could view a hundred pages on KB and it would be less data than one music video. The biggest data generator on blog sites will probably be the hosted ads, which we should assume are generating income either for the blog owner, or for the blog hosting platform (e.g. WordPress).

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  8. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    A big finger salute and loud fuck-off to these risible group, the CBB.

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  9. Judith (8,532 comments) says:

    Gosh, a political party wanting to promote their own pet projects. How unique!

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  10. thePeoplesFlag (242 comments) says:

    “…So remember…”

    I love it when DPF brazenly coaches his willing drones with simplistic extreme right wing talking points. It shows what he really thinks of them, and they seldom let him down.

    More to the point, a levy on ISPs based on connections would simply be a digital age equivalent of the old licensing fee, and would be used to produce quality material for the public.

    But DPF is petrified of the truth, so he’d rather have his braying morons howl down any discussion.

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  11. davidp (3,574 comments) says:

    Rex W>yet the people who profit from that are those who simply maintain a server farm and some cabling

    That’s like complaining that the electricity industry benefits from the television industry without having to fund television programs. ISPs deliver bits from producer to consumer. That’s all. It’s up to producers to figure out how to earn an income, or if they’re happy to produce as a hobby.

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  12. burt (8,190 comments) says:

    It’s OK people – KiwiNet will solve this dilemma. Once we have a monopoly state provider the costs will be whatever the gummit says they are and what is tax and what is actual costs will never be know. I worked for power generators under the Labour government.

    Remember the business of government is whatever government define it to be.

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  13. Nigel Kearney (970 comments) says:

    Perhaps they should be able to submit their server logs to ISPs and charge for the traffic they’re pulling?

    File downloads are where the traffic is, not blog posts. People downloading the latest Game of Thrones would far exceed Kiwiblog’s traffic. If based on traffic, we would be paying extra for internet so that a well known fat german criminal could get even richer. Sounds like a good policy for the Internet party actually. If not based on traffic, you need someone to decide how the money is shared out. Which is horrible under any circumstances, and even worse if Sue Kedgley is doing the deciding.

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  14. Albert_Ross (270 comments) says:

    While I don’t want to nose into your personal finances David, I’m feeling the need to understand a bit more about the economics of internet use in order to form a view about all this. Do you personally gain anything (in economic terms, ie not just your own intellectual satisfaction) from running kiwiblog? What expenses do you incur, apart from the opportunity cost of your own time? Is any of the above taxable?

    [DPF: In economic terms the revenue from advertising in miniscule. Think a fraction of the youth minimum wage per hour]

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  15. FeralScrote (185 comments) says:

    The Govt has already hit the Holy Grail of taxing the air that we breathe thru its ETS ,so I guess taxing what we see and hear is the Ark of the Covenant of Taxation.
    It would be nice ,just for once ,if all the lefty munters could come up with a tax carrot rather than smack us over the head with the tax stick all the time , but hey, why break the habit of a lifetime?

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  16. chris (631 comments) says:

    Didn’t you already cover this back in March DPF? http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/03/lobby_group_supports_labours_internet_tax.html

    Any specific reason for bringing it up again?

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  17. chris (631 comments) says:

    I have to laugh at their summary at the end:

    The upshot is:

    – the internet business model isn’t working
    – the market has failed to provide public service broadcasting
    – charging a levy on those who benefit from the current dysfunctional system is the fairest way to fix it.

    The internet business model sure works for the websites I own. I provide useful content. Visitors come. Advertisers buy space highly targeted to the niche.

    If the market has failed to provide “public service broadcasting” (whatever that is anyway) then there’s clearly no demand for it (whatever it is).

    I can guarantee from their third point that they wouldn’t intend to hand over any of this levy to people like David, Whaleoil and other content creators with large audiences. It would only be those who are deemed to fit their idea of whatever “public service broadcasting” is.

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  18. Dave_1924 (110 comments) says:

    If they want PBS in NZ – then adopt the PBS model – you know sponsors, members who donate money to run a Public interest channel…..

    The ISP’s are lines companies – the charge to be connected and the charge for traffic, they provide a service …. maybe they charge too much – that’s a different argument.

    But if struggling creative of Mt Vic, Aro Valley, Netwown can’t turn a buck from their talent, then some be it. We shouldn’t have to subsidize their creative efforts via another tax.

    While I was sad to see TVNZ 7 go – as I enjoy a number of the shows, taxing ISPs to get something similar back is just not a good idea.

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  19. dog_eat_dog (776 comments) says:

    Isn’t this still Curran’s policy – a per-connection internet tax to fund a fucking state broadcaster, of all things?

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  20. srylands (404 comments) says:

    “More to the point, a levy on ISPs based on connections would simply be a digital age equivalent of the old licensing fee, and would be used to produce quality material for the public.”

    If the public think it is quality they will pay for it.

    If there is a genuine market failure in content it can be financed via an efficient tax system. Judging by some of the crap that NZOA funds, that market failure is spurious.

    The ISP tax is just a deeply annoying bleat by rent seekers. Their business model fails, nobody wants to pay for their content, so they want to force other people to pay for their “quality” content, with quality decided by a committee. Well fuck that and fuck that again.

    Next thing some fucktard will suggest that we tax the internet to save newspapers. Oh wait, it has been tried already.

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/sep/23/broadband-levy-save-newspapers

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  21. srylands (404 comments) says:

    “If they want PBS in NZ – then adopt the PBS model – you know sponsors, members who donate money to run a Public interest channel…..”

    Yes exactly. If (and I am not holding my breath for this) there was a commercial free news and current affairs radio station that offered a good mix of New Zealand and international news, I would be happy to pay for it.

    If I wait for the “Quality Committee” to deliver me content I will likely get something that looks like National Radio online. Well fuck that too.

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  22. James Stephenson (2,138 comments) says:

    The internet business model isn’t working, but not in the way they think. The real problem is that network owners and operators are struggling for revenue as voice services decline and data, especially mobile data, goes through the roof.

    The money is being made by the “over-the-tops” like Facebook and iTunes who contribute f-all to the networks that carry them.

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  23. srylands (404 comments) says:

    “People downloading the latest Game of Thrones would far exceed Kiwiblog’s traffic.”

    Yes by a factor of about 10,000 for New Zealand alone.

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  24. dime (9,805 comments) says:

    Dime is over all of these shit head groups.

    Step 1 – decide theres something you hate or some big change you want in society
    Step 2 – find a few shit heads who think like you
    Step 3 – come up with a catchy name. if you can include the words “kids” “families” or “mums” then you get an A+
    Step 4 – get on zb morning news spouting your shitty views

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  25. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    a levy on ISPs based on connections would simply be a digital age equivalent of the old licensing fee

    For a legitimate license to exist an authority that is competent to issue a licence must exist first, and the thing to be licenced must involve some unfair or unlawful act. You can’t legitimately licence a contractual arrangement between two parties, just as you can’t legitimately licence fair use of public property.

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  26. OneTrack (2,973 comments) says:

    ugly – “You can’t legitimately licence a contractual arrangement between two parties, just as you can’t legitimately licence fair use of public property.”

    That isn’t going to stop these lefties trying to get other people to fund their interests. For every “problem”, there is a tax ready to go.

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  27. Colville (2,250 comments) says:

    just as you can’t legitimately licence fair use of public property.

    Tell that to D.O.C

    Fool.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/06/kapiti_island_fees.html

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  28. Jack5 (5,007 comments) says:

    A charitable trust, which means the group doesn’t pay tax, yet it wants to tax the rest of us. It’s time charitable trusts were abandoned. What’s charitable about this politically driven mob?

    These guys want to tax the internet, at the same time Radio NZ says it wants to become Internet Central instead of steam radio.

    While we are on the subject, has anyone-else noticed Karl du Fresne’s blog posting about the changes at Radio NZ (link to his blog is below)? I think Sunday morning is better without Laidlaw. Anyone-else have views of the changes?

    http://karldufresne.blogspot.co.nz/

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  29. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Tell that to D.O.C

    Why would I want to do that?

    Fool.

    You think I’m a fool for not buying into state fraud? Good luck with that.

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  30. Jack5 (5,007 comments) says:

    Re James Stephenson posted at 5.38:

    The real problem is that network owners and operators are struggling for revenue as voice services decline and data, especially mobile data, goes through the roof.

    The telecoms companies carrying mobile data seems to be doing nicely, James.

    The emerging technology allowing prioritising of various streams of internet traffic will likely give ISP’s toll income. If that doesn’t save them, do we need standalone ISPs? What’s wrong with the Vodafone and Telecom models?

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  31. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    That isn’t going to stop these lefties trying to get other people to fund their interests. For every “problem”, there is a tax ready to go.

    By “those lefties”, do you also mean people who use taxation as a cloak for funding their public policy?
    The distinction between public policy and and political interest probably isn’t going to mean very much to the average taxpayer.

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  32. Rex Widerstrom (5,346 comments) says:

    Sheesh five down votes (so far) a bit of idle philosophising. Clearly Kiwiblog isn’t the place for a discussion of general principles, especially when DPF has written the original post in such a way as to set his Pavlovian responders going.

    I wasn’t actually advocating slapping a tax of some sort on ISPs… the government has precious little justification for most of its taxes, fees and levies as it is.

    I was merely thinking aloud… there are many days I wouldn’t bother going online at all were it not to catch up with Kiwiblog and Whaleoil. At the latter I may watch several videos. And then, since I’m online anyway I might then follow links to original articles or go off in an entirely different (digital) direction. But had I not wanted my daily blog fix, none of this would happen.

    Some ISPs in Australia (not sure about NZ) already offer unlimited access to their proprietary streaming video services – e.g. Telstra with Bigpond Movies, Bigpond TV and, with some packages, Foxtel; iinet with Fetch TV, and so on.

    They do this because they realise good content is what keeps people logging on, not just fast speeds, reliable connections and so on.

    My thought was simply that they’d do well to consider the worth of a well-read blog, and to think about how to partner with one to capture customers. While there’s not too much bandwidth involved in viewing Kiwiblog, but what with Cam’s videos, audio captures from Newstalk ZB and the occasional cartoon, there’s probably a bit there. It certainly couldn’t hurt an ISP to offer its subscribers free access to a blog site, and maybe even sponsor that site in return for an acknowledgement (as Inspire already does with Kiwiblog, though IIRC that’s a contra deal for hosting).

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  33. peterwn (3,239 comments) says:

    Albert_Ross – no need to try and dive into DPF’s financial affairs. Assuming that the internet is a cash cow that can be ‘taxed’, then the issue is reduced to one of what is the most effective use of that tax. More elective surgery springs to mind especially since that docu a few nights ago. Alleviating child ‘poverty’ also comes to mind. The Greens would want it for ‘green energy’ projects and the list goes on. Pouring more money into broadcasting would be well down the list. So this ‘coalition for better broadcasting’ is dead in the water before it even starts lobbying.

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  34. davidp (3,574 comments) says:

    Rex W>Some ISPs in Australia (not sure about NZ) already offer unlimited access to their proprietary streaming video services – e.g. Telstra with Bigpond Movies, Bigpond TV and, with some packages, Foxtel; iinet with Fetch TV, and so on.

    This is a variation of the sort of walled-garden system that was around in the early days of the internet. Think AOL where the philosophy was that AOL customers would mostly use AOL services, and the rest of the internet was too scarey.

    These days, telcos are trying to partner up with content providers to reproduce a sort of cable TV model where customers buy a bundle of bandwidth and content. It leads to telcos promoting their own content or paid-for content, while using using rate-limiting technologies to slow down potential competitors. For example, Verizon in the US seems to be slowing down Netflix so that customers will opt for Verizon’s Netflix competitor. Of course Netflix could pay to have the rate-limiters removed. And for many people, Verizon is the only ISP they have access to. Needless to say, this sort of bundling of bandwidth and content tends to favour established business and increases the cost for start-ups trying to enter the market.

    If you want a more forceful analysis of why net neutrality is good and what you’re proposing is bad, then John Oliver does it in a humerous manner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpbOEoRrHyU

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  35. duggledog (1,499 comments) says:

    FFS guys

    It’s not a group, it’s one guy Miles Thomas who doesn’t get a lot of TV work. Looking at his website there seem to be no members and the people ‘involved’ in it only do so because any platform is a good platform when you want to be seen to be Worthy and Sticking It To The Man. Tragic.

    Like all things, there is a point here; Free to air TV is utter shit now especially the state funded channels. They get a cock load of your taxes to broadcast cooking shows and bull shit talent shows featuring provincial nobs who will never go anywhere in the music industry. And 50 million PA for a Maori channel nobody watches. Remember, DPF correctly deduced it would be cheaper to give each of their regular viewers a cheap new car every two years!

    So pay it no heed. One day Labour will get back in, and then Mr Thomas will get to make all his awesome documentaries on how the Maoris cooked cockles and the history of Port Waikato. Until then, stop worrying.

    Jack5, re National Radio, at least Chris Laidlaw had some knowledge of the real world and many years in the business meant he knew an awful lot about an awful lot, political stripes or not.

    To quote the new host, after an interviewee reminded his listeners the US had the world’s largest military he said…. ‘Really?’

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  36. Rich Prick (1,659 comments) says:

    I wish Lila would turn her interweb on and tell us what she thinks of this.

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  37. OneTrack (2,973 comments) says:

    “I wish Lila would turn her interweb on and tell us what she thinks of this.”

    Kim hasn’t told her what she thinks of this yet.

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  38. greenjacket (452 comments) says:

    thePeoplesFlag: “a levy on ISPs …would be used to produce quality material for the public.”
    And exactly who determines what this “quality material” actually is?
    .
    Quality material for the public for you. I call it communist/green propaganda.

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  39. adze (2,086 comments) says:

    @thePeoplesFlag

    I love it when DPF brazenly coaches his willing drones with simplistic extreme right wing talking points.

    I love it when lefties betray their complete ignorance of what “extreme right wing” means. (Here’s a tip: it doesn’t mean a general aversion to pointless forms of taxation).

    There is also an apparent ignorance about the role ISPs play in the internet, and about what some greedy media companies in the US are attempting to do to Net Neutrality. The latter is entirely about conserving the roles of ISPs as content-agnostic service providers, akin to a utility. Should we tax your electricity company for “providing” fridge and TV services?
    It’s the enemies of NN that want the ability to link content to service provision – perversely, something that such a ridiculous “tax” would legitimise.

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  40. gander (91 comments) says:

    Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a double obligation – they profit in the culture space

    at which point the Coalition have ensured that whatever it is that they want, I don’t.

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  41. ross411 (498 comments) says:

    duggledog (1,237 comments) says:
    June 17th, 2014 at 7:39 pm
    Like all things, there is a point here; Free to air TV is utter shit now especially the state funded channels. They get a cock load of your taxes to broadcast cooking shows and bull shit talent shows featuring provincial nobs who will never go anywhere in the music industry. And 50 million PA for a Maori channel nobody watches. Remember, DPF correctly deduced it would be cheaper to give each of their regular viewers a cheap new car every two years!

    Do you actually watch Free to air TV? Or do you download illegally or something?

    I watch Free to air TV, and I’m constantly pleased by it. There are always movies that I find interesting enough to watch — case in point About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson the other day. There are lots of television programs I find interesting to watch — case in point the survival shows with Ray Mears. Or the travel show with the british guy who went around staying with people living in remote locations. Or the WTA tennis on Sommet Sports. And so on..

    Sure, there’s no breaking bad or game of thrones (actually that’s on prime), but there’s still lots of good stuff.

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  42. Rex Widerstrom (5,346 comments) says:

    @davidp

    The examples I’ve given are in fact of both. Bigpond TV is a Telstra PPV product, free (bandwidth-wise) to Telstra internet customers and metered by other ISPs (though there’s presumably nothing to stop them unmetering it), so is something of a walled garden. Fetch TV is offered by several other ISPs, iinet being the largest, so is more akin to the blog model I was talking about (http://www.fetchtv.com.au/about-us).

    And yes, that John Oliver piece is very good :-)

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