For Immediate Release
August 27, 2014
Senate Ploy to Impose Internet Sales Taxes
Tops List of Bad Internet Laws
Effort to link Marketplace Fairness Act to Internet Tax Freedom Act Renewal poses dire threat to the Internet and e-commerce
WASHINGTON – The no-holds-barred effort in the Senate to ram through a regressive and unfair Internet sales tax regime tops NetChoice’s August 2014 iAWFUL (Internet Advocates Watchlist for Ugly Laws), which tracks the gravest legislative threats to the Internet and e-commerce.
While the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) has been on the iAWFUL since its introduction – thanks to the unique burdens it seeks to impose on Internet sellers and customers – Senate supporters of the legislation recently upped the ante by seeking to attach it to the renewal of the popular and critically important Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). This parliamentary ploy, which seeks to short circuit a productive debate in the House and prevent the introduction of fairer options, earned MFA the dubious honors of the iAWFUL top spot.
The full iAWFUL is available here.
“The only thing worse than an unfair bill is an unfair bill shoved through Congress using an unfair process,” NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said. “At a time when lawmakers are making real progress on remote taxation approaches that don’t punish specific technologies and business models, this crass attempt to attach fatally flawed legislation to an important and uncontroversial bill is truly awful.”
Bills, laws and legislative efforts listed in the iAWFUL are ranked by their severity (how much harm they could cause) and their likelihood of being implemented. If Senate supporters are successful in linking MFA to the must-pass ITFA, it will pose an imminent threat to online sellers.
Taking the number two spot on the August iAWFUL is an effort underway in several states to override social media users’ declared privacy preferences when they die. Delaware was the first state to adopt the Uniform Laws Commission plan, which effectively strips away all assumptions of privacy online after a user dies. The Delaware law – versions of which are pending in Massachusetts and Louisiana – expressly overrides the privacy choices of deceased Internet users as expressed in their personal settings.
Rounding out the top three is another first for the iAWFUL – a European push to suppress online search results under the cover of privacy and revenue generation. While there may be little that American voters can do about the so called “right to be forgotten” or the new Spanish and German search taxes, NetChoice is urging Congress to treat these encroachments as barriers to trade.
The final two items on the August 2014 iAWFUL are a California bill that threatens to undermine the innovative potential of ride-sharing platforms, and city regulations being enforced around the country to block Internet-enabled home renting.
More than simply identifying legislative threats to the Internet, the purpose of iAWFUL is to drive real change in these measures before they are enacted into law. Several past iAWFUL proposals have either been dropped or substantially changed after appearing on the list, and NetChoice will work to ensure that none of the items on the August 2014 list goes through without a fight.
NetChoice is a public policy advocacy organization that promotes Internet innovation and communication and fights threats to online commerce at state, federal and international levels. The Washington, DC-based group protects Internet commerce-driven competition and battles rules that hinder consumer choice and hurt small businesses. For more information, see www.netchoice.org.