JEREMY CORBYN, leader of the opposition Labour Party, has proposed a ‘windfall tax’ to protect against the rise of ‘fake news’.
The tax levied would be levied against the biggest tech firms, such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft, to pay for public interest journalism to counter the damaging misinformation that comes from fake news.
In a speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Corbyn spoke of his vision for “building a free and democratic media for the digital age” and for tackling the public trust issues surrounding the mass media.
Corbyn, himself a former journalist and chairman of the NUJ Parliamentary Committee, also reminded audiences that “a free press is essential to our democracy” and that journalists should be “set free to do their best work, not held back by media bosses, billionaires or the state”.
Other proposals include the inclusion of private companies delivering public services in the Freedom of Information Act, thus making them more transparent or accountable.
Local, investigative and public interest journalists could be given charitable status under the scheme, which would also see the social status (that is to say ‘class’) of all BBC journalists put into the public domain.
At the same time, the BBC’s existing local journalism schemes would receive additional funding to expand. Auntie Beeb itself would become permanently statutory, doing an end to the “politician pleasing” charter renewal process, with some members of its board being elected by humans.
Although Corbyn’s plan has been received warmly, it does leave some huge gaps. For example, who has to pay? If Facebook does, then should, Foursquare? Or should it be based on income, and if so, how is that accounted for in the low rates of UK tax paid by companies like Amazon?
The Conservatives have hit out at what they call an “internet tax” but Corbyn suggests it could even be an alternative to the BBC licence fee:
“The licence fee itself is another potential area for modernisation. In the digital age, we should consider whether a digital licence fee could be a fairer and more effective way to fund the BBC.”
The EU is looking at similar taxation measures on tech companies. μ
Source : Inquirer