U.S. to push moratorium on global Internet tariffs

U.S. lawmakers said last week that they would push for a permanent moratorium on electronic commerce-related global Internet tariffs when the World Trade Organization meets next month in Seattle.

At a Washington, D.C., press conference, U.S. House of Representatives Policy Committee chairman Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that they will call on the Clinton administration to support the global Internet tax moratorium, according to Cox's office. They also plan to introduce legislation supporting the permanent moratorium on Internet tariffs.

The legislation will urge the United States to work with other nations for a ban on "multiple, discriminatory and special Internet taxes," according to a written statement from Cox. The bill also will reject the United Nations' suggestion for a "bit tax" that encourages governments to tax Internet data transmission.

In May 1998, the WTO approved a one-year global moratorium on Internet tariffs but said it intended to study the issue. According to Cox's statement, some supporters of a permanent global Internet tax ban have been discouraged by a lack of action by President Clinton's administration since Internet czar Ira Magaziner left that job.

Cox and Wyden successfully championed the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which was signed into law by Clinton in October 1998 and established a three-year U.S. ban on Internet taxes at federal, state and local levels. The law also set up a national commission to study issues related to Internet taxation.

Additional information regarding the bill can be found at cox.house.gov or at policy.house.gov, which contains a previous policy statement about global Internet taxation authored by Cox.

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