Amy Klobuchar views the user data as public resource same like roads, parks and has considered putting the tax on them in a similar way. She floats her idea as follow.
[Tech companies] use us, and we’re their commodity, and we’re not getting anything out of it. When they sell our data to someone else, well, maybe they’re going to have to tell us so we can put some kind of a tax on it […] If you go on a truck, if you send stuff on rail, you have to pay for the roads and you have to pay for the rail. And maybe there’s some way we can do that with large sets of data, when [companies] use it or when they sell it.
This idea seems like a simple way to put the tax on huge tech giants, but implementing it may be very difficult, as things like under what scenarios it must be taxed and what qualifies as user data and on which companies this tax will be imposed, all these things would have to be worked out first.
Moreover, it would be difficult to keep track of companies profiting off users data because most of the companies don’t perform these kinds of things ethically.
This kind of tax was proposed in Europe previously but did not gain traction to be passed. Amy Klobuchar believes that this kind of taxes will be imposed on larger companies, not the startups because she agrees that this type of tax may hinder data science-based startups.
Klobuchar is only the first candidate to discuss a tax like this, while the other candidates have also voiced support for regulating tech companies.
It’s clear that consumers privacy and tech policy will be a major part of the 2020 election regardless of which candidate wins.
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