So broadband tax has been "abolished" in the first budget of the newly hobbled together Coalition Government in the UK. Rather than linking to other gaming and news websites, it's best to read what George Osborne actually said. So to quote from the PDF of his recent Budget speech;
But the previous Government's landline duty is an archaic way of achieving this, hitting 30 million households who happen to have a fixed telephone line. I am happy to be able to abolish this new duty before it is even introduced. Instead, we will support private broadband investment, including to rural areas, in part with funding from the Digital Switchover under-spend within the TV Licence Fee.
Reading between the lines, and depending on just how much of the needed investment comes from private sources, as well as looking into the Orbs eye (to predict your future young adventurer), what's going to happen in coming years is the eventual appearance of a two-tier internet - the one we have now, and a faster, 'better' one, the result of all this private funding. If you want to know what this means take a look at BT and how it still has a vice like hold over the telephone network infrastructure, the prices we are charged for the various services we use are a direct result of that - of which both consumers and ISP's have been long complaining. It's also not coincidental that the Government still has a big stake in BT being one of the major stock holders in the 'private' company.
Fast forward a few years to this privately funded 'new' network and we'll likely find the same, or very similar, situation play out whereby other third party network operators will have to pay a premium for access. This will filter down to users as perhaps higher subscription fees, advert predominate content, or even only certain types of high volume material being available - websites and/or information that generates large volumes of traffic, an Internet 'Walled Garden' if you will, to use a phrase oft' cited in relation locked out networks and services.
I'm always a bit wary of Politicised 'rhetoric' when it comes to the Internet and access to it, Osborne's few words reveal a much broader, long term picture we should be aware of because its likely to have repercussions on gaming, content creation and game development, certainly when 'money' is exchanging hands - who's to say that anyone wanting to 'sell' something over the new network wouldn't be liable for a fee to do so, AppStore does it, Steam Network does it, so to do a myriad of distribution channels. Would broadband network providers then be justified in saying just what type of material gets onto the network because it is theirs after all.
All speculative musings, but something that bears thinking about, especially when taking into account the wider context of Net-Neutrality and the constant 'fight' going on with regards to that.
[Edit to add] There's a bizarre twist to this whole 'internet tax' issue in that, beleave it or not, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report in Dec 09, on Public health, innovation and intellectual property:Report of the Expert Working Group on Research and Development Financing which put forward a proposal that there should be a "digital tax or “bit” tax" (pg 9, sec. 22, para 2) to help fund the Organisation;
22. Indirect taxes involve a small tax being imposed on specified products or transactions and could potentially raise very significant amounts of revenue. Examples given include the following:
• digital tax or “bit” tax: Internet traffic is huge and likely to increase rapidly; this tax could yield tens of billions of US dollars from a broad base of users;
So although Osborne's "abolished" a landline tax in terms of it being levied by the current UK Government, does this still leave the door open to the WHO 'obliging' signatory nations to implement said same just under their auspices.
In other related news, America's first official intellectual property enforcement strategy wants 50 dedicated FBI agents to tackle the problem of piracy and IP theft according to the Independent.
The creation of a task force in the Justice Department to investigate and uphold the Digital Millennium Copyright Act includes new federal attorneys and FBI agents focused on combating domestic and international IP property crimes.
The full Joint Strategic Plan to Combat Intellectual Property Theft can be read on the White House website. Of particular note is a mention of "fair use", it's not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but there had been concerns over the task force being heavy handed when it came to DMCA matters.
The Obama Administration has always embraced the free flow of information, online collaboration, and fair use by average citizens, which are also helping to advance our society and economy every day -- this strategy does not target legitimate and legal activity. [White House blog]
Related: Two tier Internet - Net Neutrality has been hoodwinked