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News: UN proposes email tax

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------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Sat, 17 Jul 1999 10:15:05 +1000
From:          Michael Baker <>
Subject:       News: UN proposes email tax

the Register

Posted 14/07/99 12:46pm by Tony Smith

UN proposes email tax

The United Nations wants email users to subsidise the extension of the
Internet to Third World countries, according to a report released by
the UN Development Programme earlier this week.

Essentially, the report calls on governments to introduce legislation
that would require Net users to pay a tax of one US cent on every 100
emails the send.

Such is the volume of email that, had such a scheme been introduced in
1996, it would have generated $70 billion in that year alone. Given
the quantity of spam we're now all being subjected to, the mind
boggles at how much revenue would be generated now.

Whatever funds were generated, however, it would be enough to give
developing countries the help they need to catch up with developed
nations and so "offset inequalities in the global community", as the
report puts it.

A worthy goal, for sure, but we can't help wondering whether the real
winners here would be the telecoms companies who would be contracted
to create all these extra connections.

However, the report argues that leaving the expansion of the Net into
the Third World to market forces will simply not allow the technology
to spread far enough sufficiently quickly.

Still, the report admits the UN can't enforce such a tax itself, and
with most Western governments keen to encourage Net use in order to
promote their countries as preferred territories for e-business,
they're unlikely to introduce such a tax unilaterally. r

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