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France Proposes a Tax On Personal Information Collection 196

Dupple writes in with a story about a French proposal to tax companies that collect personal data online. "France, seeking fresh ways to raise funds and frustrated that American technology companies that dominate its digital economy are largely beyond the reach of French fiscal authorities, has proposed a new levy: an Internet tax on the collection of personal data. The idea surfaced Friday in a report commissioned by President François Hollande, which described various measures his government was taking to address what the French see as tax avoidance by Internet companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. These companies gather vast reams of information about their users, harnessing it to tailor their services to individuals' interests or to direct customized advertising to them. So extensive is the collection of personal details, and so promising the business opportunities linked to it, that the report described data as the "raw material" of the digital economy."
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France Proposes a Tax On Personal Information Collection

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  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:44AM (#42646757)
    Wont this legitimize any and all collections of personal information as long as the tax gets paid?

    "But they collected data on what time of the day I poop.. dont I have any privacy?"

    "There is nothing we can do sir. They paid the tax. Quite frankly, we wish more corporations would collect this data so that we could get more taxes"
  • Re:Hilarious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nickleaton ( 966500 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:18AM (#42647091)
    There's an interesting change going on. Services, which are basically delivered electronically, can't be taxed. Similarly with lots of IP. Think about it. Who are you going to tax? The consumer, or the producer. Ah, the producer say government. There aren't many of them, so we can get them. Difficult going after the consumer, since they are the ones who vote. Ah, slight problem. We can't go after the producers, if they are overseas. After all, the places where the servers are want their tax cut. If we really went after them, the other countries would retaliate. Not only that, the producers would up sticks, and move their servers. For example, if you use AWS for your servers, you can move them in seconds. Who are you going to tax now? Not only can the server move, the company can move. They will move to lower tax, lower regulation. Same with all IP. So I see IP taxes falling to zero. Far better keeping the employment, rather than driving that offshore. So what are Facebook's assets in France. It's the payments from advertisers. Now under EU rules, there is freedom of movement of goods, services people, and capital. Tough for France, they can't get the taxes. So what's really going on. Basically western states are bankrupt. They have hidden their pensions debts off the books. France is bankrupt, and now its desperate for cash. Any cash, no matter what the damage. However the rich have hopped, over the border to Belgium and Switzerland. Bank of France reported that last month, French banks lost 44 bn EUR of deposits. So a run on France has started. In France the state has educated people they are entitled. Its a right. When that 'right' is infringed, there will be violence.
  • by Archon-X ( 264195 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:24AM (#42647157)

    Hah! Doesn't work like that in France.
    I've been here for the better part of 7 or 8 years now.

    Simply put, France stifles innovation and invention. There's heaps of smart people here, but pretty much all of them leave as quickly as possible. Here's (my understanding of) why:

    The very nature of France.
    France is a socialist country. There are so many laws weighted against employers that running business is a nightmare.

    Sick of working, and fancy a paid holiday? Stop working! As long as you continue t show up physically to work, your employer can't actually fire you (without you taking him to the cleaners in the worker's courts), so you'll be fired with benefits.
    What's fired with benefits? Up to two years getting 80% of your old salary.. Why on earth would you want to work?

    Double dip salaries
    Employers pay 100% of what they pay in salaries on social contribution taxes. If you pay someone $100k per year, you're $200k out of pocket. And then the fucker stops turning up to work, and you can't fire them.

    The 35 hour work week
    France still has a notion & law that no-one should work more than 35 hours per week. Evidently, you can't get anything done as such - even the french agree, and most work more than this limit. However, for each hour you work over the 35 hour limit - you get back in holidays or overtime. I know people that get at least 2 months holiday per year.

    Then, on top of all of this, you have the 'normal' corporate taxes, and then personal income tax.
    Until a year or so ago, you also had a Excessive wealth tax - this wasn't just for stupidly rich people - most people who had a few houses as investment or ran a company got nailed by this. Each year, in addition to all other taxes you'd pay a percentage on top of the taxes, just because you had 'too much stuff'. This never stopped (ie, you'd pay taxes on the same things over and over) until you were no longer considered 'rich'.

    The upshot of this is a massive skew in the taxation gradients. In France, it's actually smarter to earn less. If you've got a salary for 50k - you'll take home more than someone running a company that turns over millions - you are actively punished for your success.

    Naturally, with all of this, employers don't care nor dare to innovate - they simply go overseas - and no need to go far. Spain, Luxembourg, Ireland - all have better corporate tax laws.

    Where did everyone go?
    Life sucks for employees, too. Employers are so used to getting fucked, that they take as much care finding employees as possible - typically filtering by degrees. It's gotten to the stage now that you cannot get a decent career without at least a master's degree in the precise field. And 5 year's experience in the workforce. At the same time.

    When you do get your position, there's no vertical evolution: you're stuck in that position for life. The best you can hope for is slightly adjusting your position by hopping from company to company, and finding great workmates. Then, embittered by this fact, you either leave france, or you decide to go on a two year's paid holiday (see above)

    Finally - and I believe this is the biggest factor - is France's groupthink about capitalism. On whole, it's detested. Earning money is taboo in France. Running a company is seen to be incredibly bad. You're labelled 'rich', and people can't wait to see you come down.

    The government, and Holland especially, campaign hard on this sentiment, and each year promise to tax business even harder. Holland promised to raise company taxes and upper bracket earners even more.

    This makes sense to the masses, who hate the idea of rich, because they'll never get there. The guys who do have companies, who are taxed to oblivion, after years of tax rises, simply leave the country or evade tax, because they've got the means to do it - and the entire country suffers as a result - and you end up with this.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:27AM (#42647175)
    I used to work in the US office of a French company. Our subsidiary was not well known in North America, but it was well known in Europe and some other places. I have a real love/hate relationship with the French. On one hand, there's a lot to like about the country and its culture. On the other hand, the bad stuff that makes you, as a foreigner, hate them is really bad. They are very difficult people to make meaningful friendships with. My experience is that they are really good actors and excel at pretending that you and your friendship is important to them, but in reality, not so much. Almost every American I know who moved over there to work in one of our 2 main offices in France got discouraged with the whole thing and eventually moved back pretty jaded about the experience. The French will look out for their countrymen above all others. They may not say it, but yes, they do think that everybody in the world who is not French is inferior to them. This is one of the reasons that they look to target foreign companies like this. In their heart of hearts, they just don't respect foreign companies.

    I'm not claiming to be an expert in French politics, but they've had a lot of bad choices for leadership in recent years. Le Pen scared everybody by making it to the final round of the elections and basically everybody had to vote for Sarkozy. Sarkozy seems to be fairly smart, but he's got a huge ego and he kept making the news for things that had nothing to do with politics. Sarkozy pissed off just enough voters that coupled with Francois Hollande's campaign of "Let's tax the rich so everybody can retire early!", Hollande won. Hollande seems to be a bit out of touch with modern realities and he seems to think that he can simply tax the rich and they'll willingly pay and he can restore the old welfare state that made it impossible to fire French citizens and let people retire at age 60. A good number of French citizens are probably out of touch with reality too since they voted for him. So given that Hollande has an unrealistic goal that requires raising vast amounts of money and the French don't really respect foreigners anyway, going after foreign companies seems obvious. If I remember correctly, some years ago when Ebay got in trouble in France for not blocking listings of Nazi memorabilia, the original French government argument was that Ebay couldn't allow such items to be sold anywhere in the world before they backed down to only asking them to block such in France. So it's no surprise to me at all that France thinks they can tell Google, etc. to pay up and they'll do it.

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