'Consumer' Group Wants Netflix To Tax Customers To Give To Telcos?

from the really? dept

This one's a bit bizarre. We were just talking about the ridiculous boondoggle called the Universal Service Fund, which is one of those "taxes" on your phone bill that's supposed to go towards having the big telcos supply service to rural areas. Of course, since there's no oversight, it seems like most of the money just goes into the telcos coffers. There are all sorts of ways to deal with this, but one idea that makes no sense at all has been put forth by the Consumer Federation of America... who thinks that Netflix should be "taxed" to provide money for the USF. Why? Um, that's not clear. Basically CFA seems to think that big internet companies should now pay up just because:
"The Internet is not an infant industry anymore. It can certainly bear the burden of making sure that wires and the communications mediums are there."
So, really, what this "consumer" group is suggesting is that Netflix raise its prices on consumers, to give telcos more money that they just use to pay for operations, rather than actually investing in infrastructure for the disconnected. How does that possibly help "consumers"?

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  • icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 25 Feb 2011 @ 7:44am

    FTA: He stressed, however, that the FCC must address the mechanisms for distributing the money before it overhauls contributions. Tackling these questions simultaneously is a recipe for "political stalemate."

    "If we have [the contribution] debate at the same time we're doing distribution, I absolutely guarantee they won't have it done by the end of the year," he said.


    So they don't know what it's for, they don't know where it should come from, and they aren't prepared to put those two questions on the same table. Remind me again why this fund exists, FCC...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 25 Feb 2011 @ 8:33am

    Well, this is epically stupid

    Taxing Netflix for the USF is like taxing my company for the USF because we use the phones for tech support and charge our clients for it. GE, Microsoft, HP, or Dell wouldn't go for it, why the hell should Netflix?

    I'm assuming that the CFA won't just stop at Netflix. Why would they, Youtube still uses more bandwidth then Netflix. Then we have all the other video sharing sites, and then the music sharing sites, then the program sharing sites. Why don't we just tax them all and say to hell with the consumer. They'd all be happier living in boxes on the street anyways, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, 25 Feb 2011 @ 8:49am

    Am I missing something?

    Are Netflix in some way exempt from the many other taxes the government levies on businesses?

    Aren't Netflix a service providor not a business that has anything to do with "wires"?

    If Netflix is just a service providor, doesn't that mean that iTunes, uTube etc would be equally liable for such a tax? Or are they already? What's special about NetFlix?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      :Lobo Santo (profile), 25 Feb 2011 @ 8:53am

      Re: Am I missing something?

      Netflix has money. Hence, they're a target.

      So does Google--who owns YouTube so it's very likely if this BS slips thru they'll attempt to apply it there as well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2011 @ 7:23pm

        Re: Re: Am I missing something?

        Well, Google has at least one thing for them, they are building their own physical network so they don't need to deal with that crap anymore, they even have transoceanic cables that they paid for.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A nonny mouse, 25 Feb 2011 @ 9:10am

    A thought - is it just another version of the "waaah, they're making money on them internets! Pay us!" telco argument, only with the money going to "help the underserved" instead?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2011 @ 9:18am

    Netflix already pays into the USF

    I do. Everyone with a phone bill pays into the USF.

    Oh, wait that's not what they mean? They want the USF to not be a flat tax, but to be a broadband usage based tax?

    That's all we need is for the IRS to suddenly be in charge of auditing our broadband usage (please retain records for three years please).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Martin, 25 Feb 2011 @ 9:29am

    Can the Telcos and Cablecos use the misappropriated rural fee money to pay Netflix subscription for all of their customers?

    Anyone would like to create Consumer Group for that purpose?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Simon, 25 Feb 2011 @ 9:51am

    Response?

    Dear Telcos

    Your customers are requesting an ever increasing amount of data from our servers. It is not cheap for us to run the hardware to fulfill these requests. Accordingly we will be requiring you to pay us a little extra cash to ensure your customers are served to a reasonable standard.

    Thanks a lot, love Netflix.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Havoc (profile), 25 Feb 2011 @ 10:23am

    Cool!

    I can fix this. Netflix is now a service, $8 per month. Change it to a membership fee, $96 per year, free streaming. Not a service, but a club.
    Oh, and sue the FCC- for anything. It's 'Big Government', and that kind of thing will fly right now. We'll get Congressional panels and hearings and in the end, 5 years from now, it all just goes away because we've all forgotten.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2011 @ 10:26am

    Sounds like an astroturfing campaign . Telcos want to handicap Netflix so they can push their poorly designed wares.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Cooper, 25 Feb 2011 @ 11:18am

    Let Him know...

    I think everyone should let Mr Cooper know what we think is his "wonderful" , new idea.

    Mark Cooper
    Consumer Federation of America
    mcooper@consumerfed.org
    301-384-2204

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ryan Diederich, 25 Feb 2011 @ 11:26am

    What About Me

    But what about me????!!? I use the internet, shouldnt I be taxed for using it?

    What about my table? My laptop sits on the table and I use it for piracy. Shouldnt the table maker pay a tax to help fund anti-piracy efforts?

    What about asshats? Should asshats be able to tax everything on the planet until they are satisfied?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dahovove, 25 Feb 2011 @ 1:34pm

    Since you can access Netflix via the internet to view movies and tv shows this would be double taxation which I thought was illegal. You already pay this tax on your ISP bill. Please government take all my money and just tell me what I a can and can't have. Oh wait they are almost already doing that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Infamous Joe (profile), 25 Feb 2011 @ 3:15pm

      Re:

      Do you pay income tax? Do you pay sales tax? Double tax!

      It's worth noting that one can use Netflix with the US Postal Serviceand a dvd player. Why did they get picked for the tax? (versus Hulu, or youtube?)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2011 @ 4:30pm

    Goodbye good old USA

    It's clear the only thing coming out of America is lawsuits and stifling of consumer and human rights. What a frigging joke of a country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2011 @ 6:19pm

    Is it really fucking hard to understand that these "internet companies" pay for their internet bandwidth? Astroturfing ftw.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2011 @ 7:02pm

    USF

    Having worked in a school district, I should mention that some of the funds from the USF goes to supporting the technology infrastructure in schools and libraries (servers, switches, routers, etc.).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Shine (profile), 25 Oct 2011 @ 2:31am

    taxes

    Too much taxes! How can people cope?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joy, 25 Jan 2012 @ 8:23pm

    The USF should be more transparent in how they are spending the funds generated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrea, 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:53am

    Are you talking about University of South Florida ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ann, 30 Mar 2012 @ 10:11am

    USF is Universal Service Fund...I think they have this also in our electric bill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Florinda, 23 Apr 2012 @ 9:24pm

    With taxes being raised on products or services, it's the consumers/users that get affected anyway since they usually will have to pay more now coz of tax increase.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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