According to Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, in a bid to establish some regulatory framework, the federal government is planning to tax tech and internet giants on their data collection and ad buys. However, privacy experts say this move would see the feds profit off of privacy abuses. Guilbeault stated that the Liberals are fulfilling their 2019 re-election pledge of taxing multinational tech giants on their revenue made in Canada by imposing two other taxes: one on ad buys and the other on the use of data.
On Thursday, Guilbeault said they say data is the new oil. He said he is a jogger, so he would go and look for a pair of jogging shoes on the website of a company and then go on his Facebook page and all of a sudden, there was a whole bunch of publicities about jogging shoes. He said that was because Facebook sold information to companies without his permission and profited from their personal data. Guilbeault added that people think that there needs to be some fiscal framework around that because there is none.
Last year, Liberals released a significant aspect of the costed 2019 platform, which was billed as “making multinational tech giants pay their fair share,” together with a 3% tax on the income of businesses in the digital economy sector. To get worldwide incomes of a minimum of $1 billion and Canadian revenues of more than $40 million, it is targeting advertising and digital companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, or Amazon. The Liberals will also execute new privacy measures on these businesses, like a new set of online rights for people to erase their data from platforms.
However, regarding privacy protections for Canadians, privacy experts Michael Geist stated that this proposed data and ad buy tax runs directly counter to what the government promised in the platform. Geist, research chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa said, “There are real issues concerning privacy and the collection of our personal information. I don’t think the solution is to give the government the cut of the revenue that comes out of that. I don’t think the government should be profiting out of privacy abuse, I think it should be working to crack down on it.”
Geist also noted that taxing companies on privacy abuses was a misguided approach since there is a great deal of support to say that large technology companies need to pay their fair share of tax on revenues that they earn in Canada. He said the idea that the government wants to profit from misuse of privacy instead of trying to stop it runs directly counter to what the government did promise in the platform. He added that it was not a rocket science at that point, and people debated issues around stronger privacy protections and safeguards for many years.