“Data is the new oil”: Federal government plans to tax tech giants on Canadian user data, ad buys

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TORONTO – The federal government plans to tax tech and internet giants on their data collection and ad purchases in an attempt to establish some sort of regulatory framework, according to Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, a decision according to privacy experts that will see the federal government take advantage of privacy abuse. Guilbeault says the Liberals are building on their 2019 re-election promise to tax multinational tech giants on their income generated in Canada by imposing two more taxes: one on data usage and one on ad purchases.

“They say the data is the new oil,” Guilbeault said in an interview with CTV’s Evan Solomon Thursday.

“I’m a jogger, so I go look for a pair of jogging shoes on a company’s website, then I come to my Facebook page and all of a sudden there’s a whole bunch of advertisements on the shoes of a company. jogging.

Why is that? Well, because Facebook has sold information to companies, without my permission… they make a profit, from our personal information. We believe that a financial framework must be put in place around this, because for the moment, there is none.

A major aspect of the Liberals’ expensive 2019 platform, released last September, has been touted as “forcing multinational tech giants to pay their fair share,” including a 3% tax on corporate revenues. digital economy sector. It targets advertising and digital companies like Netflix, Apple, Google or Amazon, with global revenues of at least $ 1 billion and Canadian revenues of over $ 40 million.

The Liberals also promised to impose new privacy protections on these companies, including measures like a new set of online rights so people can erase their data from platforms.

But privacy experts Michael Geist say this proposed data tax and ad buying goes directly against what the government has promised in the platform when it comes to protecting privacy. the privacy of Canadians.

“There are real issues with privacy and the collection of our personal information. I don’t think the solution is to give the government the resulting reduction in revenue, ”said Geist, research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, at CTVNews.ca by phone.

“I don’t think the government should take advantage of the abuse of privacy, I think it should be working to crack down on it.

Geist says that while there is a lot of support that big tech companies should pay their fair share of tax on the income they earn in Canada, he says that taxing companies on privacy breaches is a “wrong approach”.

The idea that the government wants to take advantage of the abuse of privacy instead of trying to stop it, I think actually goes directly against what the government has promised in the platform, ”he said. he said.

“I don’t think it’s rocket science at this point, we’ve been debating for many years issues related to stronger privacy protections and safeguards. And in fact, several Canadian provinces have gone ahead with privacy reform proposals either in consultation or, in the case of Quebec, a bill. [a bill].

The federal government is now following rather than leading in terms of confidentiality.

– With files from CTV News’ Rachel Gilmore

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