May 25, 2007 10:19 AM PDT

Week in review: The taxman cometh back

If you once scoffed at those e-mails warning of an e-mail tax, brace yourself: you may soon be paying a lot more to use the Internet.

The era of tax-free e-mail, Internet shopping and broadband connections could end this fall, if recent proposals in the U.S. Congress prove successful. State and local governments this week resumed a push to lobby Congress for far-reaching changes on two different fronts: gaining the ability to impose sales taxes on Net shopping, and being able to levy new monthly taxes on DSL and other Internet-service connections. One senator is even predicting taxes on e-mail.

Pro-tax advocates this week advanced a flurry of proposals pushing in that direction. A bill was introduced that would usher in mandatory sales tax collection for Internet purchases. Then, during a House of Representatives hearing the same day, politicians weighed whether to let a temporary ban on Net access taxes lapse when it expires on November 1. A House backer of another pro-sales tax bill said to expect a final version by July.

The response to the moves in CNET's TalkBack forum was overwhelmingly negative, mostly along antitax convictions. However, some readers took a bigger-picture approach to the situation.

"Half the reason the Internet has become so successful is because the government has had little involvement," wrote one reader to the forum.

The U.S. Congress is also poised to create a set of massive new government databases that all employers must use to investigate the immigration status of current and future employees or face stiff penalties. The so-called Employment Eligibility Verification System would be established as part of a bill that senators began debating on Monday. The procedure that is likely to continue through June and would represent the most extensive rewrite of immigration and visa laws in a generation.

Because anyone who fails a database check would be out of a job, the proposed database already has drawn comparisons with the "no-fly list" and is being criticized by civil libertarians and business groups.

All employers--at least 7 million, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce--would be required to verify identity documents provided by both existing employees and potential hires, the legislation says. The data, including Social Security numbers, would be provided to Homeland Security, on penalty of perjury, and the government databases would provide a work authorization confirmation within three business days.

Crime and punishment
In their third effort to enact a federal law targeting spyware, members of the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved criminal penalties aimed at anyone implanting certain types of malicious software on computers. The bill, called the Internet Spyware Prevention Act, or I-Spy for short, punishes anyone who intentionally causes software "to be copied onto" a computer--and damages it or steals personal information--with fines and up to five years in prison.

Among other things, the I-Spy Act attempts to make it unlawful to engage in various means of "taking control" of a user's computer, to collect personally identifiable information through keystroke loggers, and to modify a user's Internet settings, such as the browser's home page. It also includes a broad prohibition on collecting information about users or their behavior without notice and explicit consent.

In a reversal, unveiled a plan for cooperating with requests from state attorneys general for data pertaining to registered sex offenders. MySpace initially asserted it was legally unable to comply with the requests set forth in a letter sent earlier this month from the attorneys general of eight states. It appears, however, that an accord was struck late last week.

See more CNET content tagged:
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Add your comment
Start Writing YOUR Congressmen now!!!!!
And tell them to back the &^%$ off and stop taxing us wherever we go. If we let these bastards in now we'll never be rid of them.

Posted by aaroberts (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
here here!
Go find your congressman and senators' websites, and email them via the website form! Let them know your true feelings, and why they should leave thier little mitts off of taxing the internet!

And let your friends know that THIS time, it's not a fake email!
Posted by crazynexus (67 comments )
Link Flag
are you all so BLIND...
how do you think the funding for the continued war effort will continue. This is exaclty what it's for! And do you really think our politicians are going to do what we the citizens ask! Not on your life.

Remember; you REAP what you SOW!

Don't be surprised if Homeland Security says that they have to put resources to monitor emails as terrorists are sending coded messages. So they have to tax that to pay for the monitoring.

Your kids, grandkids and yourselves will be paying for this war for a loooonnnnggggg time;
wait and see.

Thank GW & company...
Posted by oceanview_1 (14 comments )
Link Flag
Start writing your Congressmen Now
I totally agree, we are being taxed on many things and we should stand up and say stop!

msunicorn 0996
Posted by msunicorn0996 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Mark of the Beast
This is how the bible explains the government will take more control. This is part of the mark of the beast. Its against our privacy and more. How can they do this. Suprised we havent had a overthrow in this country.
Posted by Madvac2005 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I Love to Pay Taxes to My Government
Please tax me more. Government please tell me where to send all my money to. Taxes are great. Taxes are wonderful. If it weren't for taxes, I wouldn't know what to do with MY money. Tax me, tax me, tax me.
Posted by copakeman (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More Tax
This is the best Country in the world! Downside is Government. Crooked Politicians and the ongoing way they systematicly screw the public to become richer. Best Country (Semper Fi) One of the worst Free World Governments.
Posted by JamesMK (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
what the
Land of the free?
You're fired because Big Brother can't find you in the database?
what a weird country
Posted by jg_rat (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Since all software program coding is done in order to be reduced to permanent read only memory chips, anyway, I see no need in crying over spilled milk.

If the hacker bullies didn't kill the web then the government tax men did. It's a sad ending for a story about a new age dinosaur, the Personal Computer. Sorry MAC! GoodBye MSN! See you later, Yahoo! Oh! GOOGLE! What shall we do?

(personally I enjoy the web)
Posted by jack1260 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
creates tech jobs
In order to keep up with the new government legislation, a lot of people with tech skills will have to be employed to help companies hook in correctly to the new immigration database and to correctly account for tech activity that can be taxed.
Posted by bcroner (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More likely to eliminate tech jobs
The reason the internet has been so successful is that it has been free and a creation of the people - FREE of Government meddling! I, for one, will use the internet rarely if the government starts ruining the net with fees - and maybe it will actually be a good thing for people to get up from the computer and do other things again. I think it will have broad, detrimental effects on our economy, tech jobs, pc sales, etc. if "our representatives" (yeah, right) let the government stick its foot into it. Watch your reps & senators votes on this - if they vote to screw us in favor of this ignorant administration, then DON'T VOTE for them again. Maybe the democrats can undo some of the damage this administration is doing to American freedoms.
Posted by anna3333 (4 comments )
Link Flag
Immigration and taxes
Sure, write your congressman about something that only rated #5 on our readers list. Does the public really care that they are taxed off the internet or that immigrants are fired? Apparently not. Wait until the price of ketschup hits $10 a bottle and we all have to prove that we "were born in east LA" to keep our jobs. Wait until the internet splits into a fast "business/gov/mil" net with privledges for the rich, and a crawling slow crowded crashnet for those who can only pay $100/month. The 60's dream of power to the people which generated the free web will finally be a thorn removed from those who fear it. Write a congressman, it will make you feel better, but it is too late: they are already here.
Posted by tinkertomshop (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Don't they already tax the internet?
Doesn't the federal and state governments already levey taxes on Internet services?
Posted by mattumanu (599 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Isn't it time we get some intestinal fortitude and throw these bums
out. all of them. They are so easy when it come to taxing us. Lets
see how easy they are when we vote to throw them out and cut
their salaries. The only way we are ever going to beat them is to
ban together. THat will never happen.
Posted by sdicenso (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No wonder!
No wonder they don't want to get rid of SPAM... the IRS is probably looking to make a killing from spammers.

Who knows, if they tax each SPAM sent... we could entirely deplete the deficit in one year. (* CHUCKLE *)

Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Galge at What we Use Most
all this is is people just galging at what we use most such as gas, and now even the internet. it's like history is repeating itself with how people were once taxed to hell and back, and now it's happening again. why not tax us for breathing too, we HAVE to have air. and whats worse is "we the people" have no say so in it, because everytime some of us want to say something or do something, nobody takes it seriously. it's just going to get worse if we don't stand united on this and remind politicians on WHO put them there in the first place and who can vote them out.
Posted by erixgirl86 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read More on the Political Dynamics
Read more on the political dynamics of the Internet tax fight here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

It links you to the article "An Odd-Bedfellow Coalition: Republicans and (many) Democrats see eye-to-eye on Internet-access taxes."
Posted by Giselle411 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And so, the end of days are upon us.
Oh internet, you were so new 10 years ago, you started a set of business types not possible before your use in the average American home. You gave us such internet gods as, Google, and with web 2.0, Youtube. Surely in 2007 you have reached your peak. And sadly, you have reached your peak, and do you know what that means? Your on your way to death. Ah yes, Mr. Taxman, Google's Big Bro ambitions and the death of net neutrality will surly be your downfall. Though it would be virtually impossible to actually tax e-mail (everyone will just jump ship to e-mail sites based in other countries)it would show that the government has stepped in far too much into the internet. It wouldn't be long till say, connections will be taxed based on how long the connection is live, that popular websites would have to pay some sort of bandwidth tax and that an FCC system would fall upon podcasts and sites such as YouTube. When these things happen, surely, the internet in America will be corrupted. Until then, ***** to your councilman/woman as much as possible.
Posted by ddhboy (260 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Taxing me for Spam???? They don't dare!!!
If they start taxing me for all the spam I get, I will be one angry taxpayer. Tax the senders NOT THE RECEIVERS.
Posted by JKFentiman (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
YouTube video on Net Taxes
Watch the video here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Giselle411 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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