Furchtgott-Roth: Title II Could Mean Internet 'Stealth' Tax

Former Republican FCC commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth says the FCC would be levying a new "stealth" tax on ISPs if it decides to reclassify them as common carrier telecom services under Title II.

While advocates of Title II classification to buttress new open Internet rules argue the FCC could forbear from whatever common carrier regs it did not want to apply, Furchtgott-Roth argues in a piece for Forbes that the FCC probably does not have the discretion to tax some interstate telecommunications services, but not others, to collect money for the Universal Service Fund.

"Inevitably, network neutrality with ‘telecommunications services’ will lead to new fees..." he says. That could translate to billions of new dollars to fund new programs without having to go hat in hand to Congress, he suggests, and would be "perhaps the largest, one-time tax increase on the Internet."

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John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.