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Europe Moves Forward With Dumb Plan To Tax 'Big Tech' To Pad The Pockets Of Big Telecom – Techdirt

Broadband
Last year we noted how FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr had launched a bad faith effort suggesting that “big tech” gets a “free ride” on the internet, and should be forced to fund broadband expansion. This argument, that tech giants like Google and Netflix somehow get a free ride (they don’t) and should “pay their fair share” to fund broadband expansion is a fifteen year old AT&T lobbyist talking point.
It’s basically just a lobbying effort by telecom giants to exploit growing (and often valid) animosity at “big tech” to pad big telecom’s coffers. And despite being violently stupid, it’s contagious and spreading.
As the EU contemplates its digital policy trajectory for the next decade, the idea that “big tech” should pay “big telecom” for no coherent reason has also managed to unsurprisingly surface. Originally a fall 2022 project, the fight over taxing big tech in Europe looks like it’s going to be punted into 2023:
 The European Union’s executive body will launch a consultation early next year on whether tech giants should bear some of the costs of Europe’s telecoms network, EU industry chief Thierry Breton said on Friday.
Europe’s telecoms operators have long lobbied for a financial contribution from U.S. tech firm’s such as Alphabet’s Google, Meta’s Facebook and Netflix, saying that they use a huge part of the internet traffic.
Again, it’s super easy for telecom giants to capitalize on both the animosity toward big tech, and the political fixation with “bridging the digital divide” to cement this idea in the heads of captured politicians. The rhetoric is always the same; namely that Google and Netflix (who spend billions on cloud storage, CDNs, transit lines, fiber) are somehow getting a “free ride” and/or aren’t paying their “fair share:”
Breton said that this particular issue, or so-called potential “fair share” of U.S. tech companies in the financing of the European telecoms and internet infrastructure, will be part of a wide consultation that will entail metaverse — the shared virtual world environments which people can access via the internet.
The often captured politicians who’ve had their brains polluted with this gibberish often try to pretend that the discussion about this plan to “tax big tech” is being based on widespread consultation with experts and the public, and is motivated exclusively by their noble interest in bridging the digital divide. But said consultation usually involves meeting with some telecom lobbyists over lattes:
I’m looking forward to seeing what this consultation will look like & how inclusive it will be. Just to be clear: the “consultation “ between the Commission and telcos started long ago so let’s not make this sound as if the Commission is about to do something extraordinary! pic.twitter.com/S52Swc3dXj
— Konstantinos Komaitis/Κωνσταντίνος Κωμαϊτης, PhD (@kkomaitis) September 12, 2022

There’s an easy “tell” for which politicians and regulators are operating in good faith on this subject or not. Here in the States, regulators like Carr will be quick to propose a “tax on big tech” to address shortfalls in broadband subsidies. But they’ll almost never acknowledge the untold billions we throw at regional telecom monopolies for fiber networks they routinely only half deliver.
They never support real reform if the reform in any way inconveniences the nation’s biggest telecom giants.
If you want to address the digital divide, the very first step should be reform of existing telecom subsidy programs so that you ensure existing funds aren’t wasted. These guys with a head full of telecom lobbyist chatter don’t do that; they instead immediately turn to the idea of taxing giant tech companies, throwing that money in the laps of a telecom industry with a fifty year history of outright fraud.
Maybe there’s a world where tech giants could help subsidize broadband to the poor. But right now, most of these pushes aren’t being proposed in good faith. They’re being proposed by captured policymakers with a pocket full of telecom campaign cash, looking to capitalize on big tech animosity to throw billions of additional dollars at an industry that’s arguably worse.
Filed Under: big tech, big tech tax, big telecom, eu, european union, fcc, subsidies, telecom, troll toll

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It’s always been a problem that people who are nearer to money sources are getting bigger chunk of the cake than people who are building the plumbing/fundamentals needed for the system to work. This is why marketing people who are nearer to customer’s money gets paid huge sums of money while the programmers and technology folks gets nothing.
Guess the same happens with Big Tech vs Big Telecom. The Telecom folks just picked area which is further away from the customer and Big Tech chose area where they have direct customer contacts. That’s why Big Tech is in trouble with the customer moderation, while Big Telecom is in huge trouble slurping goverment’s money so they can build networks.
It also explains why my web site meshpage.org has no customers and money is going to the people who are in marketing instead of technology.
But, telcom tried to move in to techs neighborhood through various acquisitions to get closer to the money as you say. Unfortunately, telcom spent so many years pissing off the people in that neighborhood that those people basically told telcom to pound sand.
It also explains why my web site meshpage.org has no customers and money is going to the people who are in marketing instead of technology.
Actually, the main reasons for that is your varying claims as to what Meshpage is. A few months ago it did what Unity does, but worse and for the same price, and then just a few days ago it became a form of cryptocurrency. If you can’t decide what exactly it is Meshpage does and you’re its creator, is it any wonder that no one else has any faith in it?
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the main reasons for that is your varying claims as to what Meshpage is.
This is similar to what youtube does, when they advertice youtube, youtubeTV, youtubeMUSIC, youtubePODCAST etc.. They clearly cannot decide what their website is for.
But real reason for this behaviour is that the programmers managed to create more than one feature for the site. I.e. it shows progress and distinguish the site from the competition. It isn’t any longer one-trick pony.
This is similar to what youtube does, when they advertice youtube, youtubeTV, youtubeMUSIC, youtubePODCAST etc.. They clearly cannot decide what their website is for.
Except Youtube established itself as being good at something(internet videos) before doing so.
Your page has yet to do that.
Except Youtube established itself as being good at something(internet videos) before doing so.
We didn’t go to the internet video area because the market is full of pirated material. Basically the videos that are in demand are all coming from Hollywood, and random programmer has no chance of getting a license to publish hollywood’s videos. It’s better to reject the whole area. If you go to that area, you end up maintaining technology that has one use case only: piracy.
Instead we built 3d graphics web site. Hollywood movies are not working with our technology, so the material that is in high demand wont be available with our system. Also piracy groups cannot use our system as part of their illegal operation, since we simply don’t support video files. Instead, we require users to build their own 3d models and any interactive stuff requires users to create the interaction themselves. This avoids cloning someone elses work, and can improve the copyright status of the end result. To help with the creation task, we built good developer tools that allow creating animations and deploy it in web.
This said, the system is geared towards young people using the system. Thus proper copyright controls are essential because we cannot expect that end users have sufficient knowledge about copyrights that they can do correct decisions and avoid pirated material while using the system. Thus the system needs to prevent those use cases from ever happening.
We didn’t go to the internet video area because the market is full of pirated material.
Oh? Can you tell me where? That way the infringing material can be pulled down instead of tools with a multitude of non-infringing uses.
Can you tell me where? That way the infringing material can be pulled down instead of tools with a multitude of non-infringing uses.
Like all of youtube. (see RIAA’s opinion about youtube-dl/moving the videos outside of youtubes system is not allowed according to RIAA/if our technology implements video file support, it anyway couldn’t use any of the videos “available” in youtube, given that it’s not allowed to take the material outside of youtube’s system => all youtube videos are pirated material that cannot be used in competing video sites)
Good luck with taking down youtube.
That way the infringing material can be pulled down
You probably want information how I figured out that all youtube videos are pirated infringing material. The steps are as follows:
1) when author has finished video available and the author spent X hours of effort to create the material
2) then youtube requires permission from the author to upload the material to youtube
3) but this permission isn’t valid given that proper compensation negotiation has not taken place yet. I.e. the paperwork does not have exact money amounts that get transferred if author accepts the contract. Instead youtube expect authors to accept the agreement without knowing the level of compensation that is expected. So authors cannot do valid comparision of effort amount in (1) to the compensation amount in (2).
4) Later youtube decides without consulting the video author about how much money they are willing to pay. At this point the video has already been available in youtube for longer time, and this change in the money amount materially changes the contract between the author and youtube.
5) Because the compensation amount was not specified in the permission negotiation, the permission is legally invalid.
Thus all youtube videos are pirated. Youtube didn’t pay anything for millions of videos and still they claim to have license to the videos in question. This isn’t true, given that the negotiations were rigged against all the authors in unfair way.
It’s always been a problem that people who are nearer to money sources are getting bigger chunk of the cake than people who are building the plumbing/fundamentals needed for the system to work.
I mean, this is a problem across industries. Middlemen do pocket a considerable portion of money. However, here’s the problem why that’s a meaningless argument coming from you: you’ve advocated that we pay the RIAA and MPA huge amounts of money, despite their middleman status and the fact that they’ve contributed nothing to the production of content besides a vague promise that they will pay the government to sue innocent people for alleged copyright infringement. Your anger is not actually directed at middlemen, it’s just directed at middlemen you consider fashionable to hate.
It also explains why my web site meshpage.org has no customers and money is going to the people who are in marketing instead of technology.
Meshpage isn’t getting money, period, because it’s fucking terrible at doing what it was originally supposed to do. You created 3D imaging software aimed at children when your personal dream world has no children in it to start with. The fact that people need to spend money on marketing in a modern world is an unfortunate element of reality, but if it means anything to you I don’t see anyone rising to take you on as a marketing client. There is absolutely no selling point for a Finnish madman’s power fantasy.
Thus the system needs to prevent those use cases from ever happening.
This is your reminder that you personally used a 3D model of a FNAF animatronic that you had no legal copyright to use, and proves once again that your system is not the copyright enforcement god-tier software you imagine it to be.
Instead youtube expect authors to accept the agreement without knowing the level of compensation that is expected. So authors cannot do valid comparision of effort amount in (1) to the compensation amount in (2).
Video hosting platforms are not bosses. They don’t pay you to host your content. In the same way, if you advertise your services via an ad in the newspaper, the newspaper doesn’t owe you money if you don’t become as rich as you want to.
Youtube didn’t pay anything for millions of videos and still they claim to have license to the videos in question.
YouTube doesn’t own the videos. There are a lot of issues pertaining to the algorithm and ContentID and how a lot of copyright enforcement is often heavily rigged against video content creators on YouTube. A lot of that is worth discussing, but a lot of those initiatives were demanded by your middlemen. The reason why so much of process to prove your ownership of your own created content is so cumbersome is because your middlemen demanded systems that made it easier for larger corporations to fuck over the little guy by claiming their content even if the companies didn’t own it. And none of this, by itself, determines whether “all videos on YouTube are pirated”. The fact that Viacom sued YouTube for videos that Viacom personally uploaded and thus were not pirated videos is proof that the system, as it is currently, is completely fucked up at the behest of copyright lunatics like you.
you’ve advocated that we pay the RIAA and MPA huge amounts of money, despite their middleman status
middlemen get access to content that authors created when they pay enough money to authors. If they fail to do that, they have no content, and they cannot use the content.
Current market has a problem that the middlemen forget this compensation part for the authors and they do all kinds of tricks to get access to the content without actually passing any money to the authors. This practice is equivalent of piracy.
“That’s why Big Tech is in trouble with the customer moderation, while Big Telecom is raking in record-breaking profits thanks to colossal subsidies they pocket instead of investing in infrastructure.”
fixed that for you
Mostly it’s the EU wanting to tax/punish US companies… because they can.
now, i wonder where they got the idea of ‘padding big telecom’ from? surely, i cant have been from the USA, can it? if there was ever a corrupt set of politicians, who cannot do enough to feather their own nests, they have to be in the USA! the really sickening thing being that they start all this shit, then complain because other countries are following suit! how fucking hypocritically ridiculous is that?
Actually, the only ones complaining are those individuals and groups that, like Techdirt, have been complaining about bullshit charges like that proposed from their very inception. Nice bad faith argument, though.
The European Union’s executive body will launch a consultation early next year on whether tech giants should bear some of the costs of Europe’s telecoms network, EU industry chief Thierry Breton said on Friday, positing the fallacious idea that Google pays no fees for its Internet connections.
CTFY, Reuters. 😉
There’s an easy “tell” for which politicians and regulators are operating in good faith on this subject or not. Here in the States, regulators like Carr will be quick to propose a “tax on big tech” to address shortfalls in broadband subsidies. But they’ll almost never acknowledge the untold billions we throw at regional telecom monopolies for fiber networks they routinely only half deliver.
If the tech companies had spines that weren’t the equivalent of heavily overcooked pasta that seems like a great opportunity to shoot back against such grossly dishonest arguments.
‘Before asking us to subsidize the telecom industry that we’re already paying heavily why don’t you do a full accounting to see how well and where the taxpayer money they’ve already been given is spent?
If they can’t be trusted to spend what they’ve already been given then insisting that we have to start giving them even more money will hardly solve any problem that isn’t tied to the size of their quarterly bonuses, so before looking to us you should really be looking into their spending habits.’
The problem is that they haven’t been padding the pockets of politicians the way telecom does, and they know it.
Jack up the payoffs and build some revolving doors and an ol’ boys network between pols/gov and “big tech”, and watch the governments be telling telecom they need to give rebates to tech.
I realized it was explained in the article, but it seems, well, weird that Netflix is considered “Big Tech” since they’re more like a movie studio now. Why not tax and regulate Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery while they’re at it?
They’ll tax and regulate everything because they can’t innovate.
Netflix has money.
The telecom industries want money.
Netflix’s product is accessed over the internet.
Therefore Netflix owes the telecom industry money.
(No mention shall be made about how much they are already paying the telecom industry for their connection.)
As for the likes of Disney they’ll either be avoided as too capable of fighting back with both money and politicians in their pockets or be added to the list once the ‘easy’ targets have been extorted and precedent set as a result.
…with taxpayer dollars. So let’s tax the world for using our internet.
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with taxpayer dollars. So let’s tax the world for using our internet.
You already got your compensation when we purchased cisco routers, internet cables, ibm pc’s, settopboxes, movies and computer monitors.
Those are products you now own, not internet tax.
You’re bad at your own game, mate.
Even if my tax dollars went to laying down internet infrastructure, I still did not do jack shit.
I still have to shell out for a contract with an ISP, the hardware needed to tap into that infrastructure, and so on.
I am very sure I have not been “compensated” for paying for all the shit I need to have an Internet connection, let alone the fucking tax dollars I may have paid for said infrastructure.
And no, I will not use your products. I know people who can do what you did in 3 months. And crank out a BETTER product.
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I know people who can do what you did in 3 months.
sure, i know bill gates and elon musk who are richer than you will ever be…
but the real kicker comes when YOU are able to do it, not your friends or people who you saw from the tv.
And you wonder why no one wants to use your products…
Not only are your creations awful, YOU are also an awful person.
That explains a lot of things about you.
Elon Musk didn’t actually do anything. He’s rich enough to pay plenty of engineers to do work for which he claimed reputational credit for. But the idea that everyone needs to do what you do in order to critique your work is inherently dumb. It’s like saying you have to be an expert in food safety or preparation to refuse to eat oatmeal that somebody else pissed in.
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