According reports quoting information from a document of the European Commission, the European Union (EU) plans to consult companies in the technology and telecoms sectors about whether tech behemoths such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Meta, and Amazon.com Inc should be forced to subsidize network costs.
According to EU telecoms providers such as Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Telecom Italia, the six largest content providers account for more than half of data internet traffic and should pay their fair share. Netflix Inc, Apple Inc, and Microsoft Corp are also mentioned by the providers.
According to the tech titans, the idea is equivalent to an internet traffic tax, which could interfere with Europe’s net neutrality rules, which treat all users equally.
The commission’s question is part of a 19-page document drafted by the EU executive before it proposes legislation.
Although the timing is subject to change, the EU executive is expected to publish the document next week in order to solicit feedback from telecom operators and Big Tech. The next step is to reach an agreement with EU member countries and legislators to finalize the legislation.
“Some stakeholders have suggested a mandatory mechanism of direct payments from CAPs (content application providers)/LTGs (large traffic generator) to contribute to finance network deployment. Do you support such suggestion and if so why? If no, why not?” the questionnaire asked.
The questionnaire also asks who should be subject to the mechanism, whether it would have a negative impact on innovation, the internet ecosystem, and consumers, and whether the EU should establish a continental or digital levy or fund.
The EU will also investigate Big Tech and telecoms providers’ investment spending and future plans, according to media reports earlier this month.
“The Commission’s questionnaire is basically asking questions that seek to justify the ‘fair share’ narrative pushed by big telcos. What is more, it seems to ignore the impact on consumers and fundamental net neutrality protections,” an industry source said.
“The Commission is also asking for detailed business information, such as peering contracts, that is usually confidential. This effectively excludes key stakeholders from taking part.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)
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