Digital Single Market

Documents leaked entitled ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market’ from the European Commission and then published by the European Commission “[that] is now proposing the idea of using national ID cards to log in to online services, including Facebook, Twitter and even Uber.” (Best, 2016) With the recent changes in EU and the tax laws in the UK and the EU referendum, it sounds as if there is a coming reform and a change to digital taxing and digital currency around the corner.

“In the Queen’s Speech published today, the Government outlines how it plans to bring forward a Digital Economy Bill to make the UK a digital “world leader”.” (Demianyk, 2016) While, the Queen had spoken on the topic of a digital public state, others like Obama and the European Commission also seem to be on board, having the most to gain from the digital currency and ID cards, “[a] briefing note suggests the ambit of the legislation will include “new powers for public authorities to share information to combat the public sector fraud which cost the country billions”.” (Demianyk, 2016) “In 2011, President Obama spearheaded a plan to boost web security by issuing American computer users with an Internet ID.” (Best, 2016) However, the suggested ID cards and RSCoin sounds like a bad idea to track and tax people more or a real-life example of the movie In Time. “The Vice President for the Digital Single Market on the European Commission, former Communist Andrus Ansip, is behind the next European Union (EU) raid on personal freedoms, promoting the idea of using national ID cards to log in to online services.” (Kassam, 2016)

Having the Queen, Obama, and the whole of the European Commission on side, only thing left is to find entrepreneurs to innovate the regulation into Blockchain technology in order to kick-start the digital state currency. “Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean is set to host yet another blockchain-focused gathering, drawing a range of guests from around the world including the former prime minister of Haiti and a member of the European Union Parliament.” (Castillo, 2016)

Among the approximately 40 people attending this year’s event is Marietje Schaake, the member of European Parliament who in March hosted an event with COALA (Coalition of Automated Legal Applications) and the Dynamic Coalition on Blockchain Technologies at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to explore the prospect of coding regulation into a blockchain. Also on the guest list are Beth Moses, engineer and astronaut for Branson’s aerospace firm Virgin Galactic; Laurent Lamothe, former prime minister of Haiti; Jim Newsome, former chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of bitcoin startup BitPesa. The event is being hosted by bitcoin mining firm BitFury and event group Mai Tai. From 3rd to 7th June, guests will attend panels dealing with the event’s three major themes: financial technology, security and global change. (Castillo, 2016)

“The main reason that the paper states for implementing ID cards is to combat the current prevalence of fake user reviews that are misleading European consumers.” (Best, 2016) Only the private market should be providing efficient and quality regulations for consumer goods. The European Commission’s ID cards are however also targeting such platforms as YouTube, Facebook and Uber, yes Uber the ultimate free market transport alternative to public transport. “Breitbart London has previously reported on how the European Union plans to roll out a continent-wide ID card, with a view to using the data to impose Europe-wide taxes, and an EU-wide minimum wage, further bypassing elected national parliaments and handing more power to the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.” (Kassam, 2016) At the moment these government ID cards are implemented and used in all European member states except the UK and Denmark, however this paper were meant as a push toward full implementation.

The paper outlines that: ‘Online platforms need to accept credentials issued or recognised by national public authorities, such as electronic ID cards, citizens cards, bank cards or mobile IDs.” (Best, 2016) These cards will log peoples activity on social media and pry into the lives of citizens as of the data being recorded. Surrounding tension about the proposal is that it would destroy privacy and freedom of speech. “Speaking to Breitbart London, Diane James, a Member of the European Parliament and the UK Independence Party’s spokesman for Home Affair said: ‘Calling on us to log onto YouTube with national IDs etc shows a direction of travel which should worry anybody who believes in personal liberty.'” (James in Best, 2016) Not to mention opening a gateway to giving away peoples remaining freedoms. “Former Conservative cabinet minister Liam Fox MP added: “This is an outrage, a thinly-veiled attempt to impose supranational taxation on British citizens and nullify our hard-won rebate [each] pound taken out of our pockets is a pound taken out of our economy.”” (Fox in Giannangeli, 2016) Saying that governments will see uses for taxes and regulations. “The move, dubbed “yet another signpost to Superstate”, followed the decision by the EU Parliament’s economic affairs committee to rubber stamp a plan by Commissioners to create a “common corporate consolidated tax base”.” (Giannangeli, 2016) 

“These plans demonstrate the risks of remaining in a club which has grand plans to supersede nation states and create a United States of Europe with a fully-fledged continental wide tax system. […] If we stay in the EU, we will be forced to pay a European tax. Plans for an EU taxpayer ID system – effectively a new continental National Insurance number – demonstrates their real ambitions for further integration. They are laying the foundations for an EU tax system. […] The EU wants to know how much tax we pay, decide how much tax we pay and know exactly what possessions each of us own. The only way to guarantee this does not happen is by voting Leave on June 23rd.” (Woolfe in Giannangeli, 2016)

“In the biggest threat to sovereignty, the plan also calls for the EU to take over member states’ corporate taxation powers with a common corporation tax base, banning sovereign states from increasing their competitiveness by cutting corporation tax below 15 per cent.” (Giannangeli, 2016) Additionally, it is not the UK government but the EU that is inferring, and their large bureaucracy and their failing monopoly currency the Euro. “Ms James added: ‘In 2013, the European Parliament spent almost £2 million on press monitoring and trawling Eurosceptic debates on the internet for “trolls” during euro-elections amid fears that hostility to the EU was growing.'” (James in Best, 2016) The European Parliament claimed also in their interest that “”institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand ‘trending topics’ and have the capacity to react quickly.'” (European Parliament in Best, 2016)

While, UK and Sweden urge caution over the EU crafting internet regulations. “Seeking tougher scrutiny of search engines, social media and app stores, the European Commission is expected to say this week that online platforms may no longer avoid rules that govern other industries such as telecommunications and broadcasting.” (White, 2016) Targeting “Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc. for extra regulation [along with] Google’s search phone and advertising businesses [for tax and privacy terms]” (White, 2016). However, if this paper’s proposal comes into being the whole internet and online financial transactions will be then subject to regulations like that in China, for a big brother government. Recent updates from the paper are now stating that “Ministers are drawing up “intrusive” plans for the state to share personal data that could make the aborted identity cards scheme “blush”.” (Demianyk, 2016) While, the “[…] Big Brother Watch campaign group warns the Government is using a promise of high-speed broadband for all as cover to create “large databases” accessed by public authorities such as councils and government agencies.” (Demianyk, 2016)

Some of the exclaimed benefits include (my thoughts in brackets):
  • Data can provide toward providing public services and producing research/statistics (translation, data robbery can increase the public sector and state taxes to pay for favoured industries and public servant jobs)
  • Share public-held data that would improve services that are secure of privacy (quite the opposite, privacy is taken away by their coercive regulation/collection of data that is kept as public property to sell, share, or do what they like with)
  • Gives central authority to share our data/information to prevent fraud which costs billions (sharing and collecting our data/information would be more subject to security risks as the data will be in one place and open for use, this whole process of collection would costs the taxpayer billions anyway to implement and continue operations of data collection and retention)
  • Government wants to cut their overdue debts and would allow early notification and help for those public agencies with debt (government takes and sells data that isn’t theirs to sell or use, for their own gain, another excuse to tax more or inflate their debt away whilst turning to digital currency and negative interest rates)
  • UK Statistics Authority have easy access to data, to create better national statistics (corruption and new public policies are always buried in statistics to confirm biases)

See this video, Britain and the EU, and its text Source: (Whitmore, 2016). “Big Brother Watch’s chief executive, Renate Samson, warned the Digital Economy Bill is “buried deep in the Queen’s Speech”.” (Demianyk, 2016) Along with the Investigatory Power Bill. “[The Queen] goes on that data sharing proposals were included in a Government consultation but it “failed to define what is actually meant by ‘data sharing’ and made no distinction between public and private data”. (Demianyk, 2016)

In a blog, tech writer Jerry Fishenden noted how without a definition proposals to “data share” will “expand the pool of people and organisations able to access citizens’ personal data”.” (Demianyk, 2016) Besides, can people trust the government with their data, as recently some EU citizens have been sent referendum poll cards, even though not being eligible and were blamed on a software issue, therefore how can their digital state be safer. “A “small number” of EU citizens in the UK who are not eligible to take part in the referendum have received polling cards for the 23 June vote.” (BBC, 2016) However, the issue has been resolved and will be cancelled.

Though, surrounding the news that EU members receiving vote slips even though not being eligible had sparked some outrage too or even created a public scare tactic for the use of ID cards. “Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith criticised “lax” protections and a “highly concerning breach of the law”.” (BBC, 2016) However, this could have been another public sway for increased use of the government issued ID cards again. “The Electoral Commission pointed out that in 2014, the body itself called for ID to be shown in polling stations as a way of tightening up on voter fraud. Legislation would be needed for this to happen.” (BBC, 2016) To conclude, it is not just a tax and regulatory hindrance as it is crossing the law and the laws surrounding free speech and data privacy.

Reference List

Best, S. (2016). Will you soon need a government id to log into facebook? Europe commission proposes controversial scheme to access social media sites. Daily Mail Australia. Retrieved [04/06/2016] from <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3623396/Will-soon-need-government-ID-log-Facebook-Europe-Commission-proposes-controversial-scheme-access-social-media-sites.html>.

BBC. (2016). EU citizens sent referendum poll cards. BBC. Retrieved [04/06/2016] from <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36434587>.

Kassam, R. (2016). The european commission wants yo to log into social media accounts with with govt-issued id cards. Breit Bard. Retrieved [04/06/2016] from <http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/06/02/former-commie-ec-commissioner-calls-people-log-onto-youtube-national-electronic-id/>.

Demianyk, G. (2016). Queen’s speech: government ‘buries’ data sharing plan to ‘make id card scheme blush’. Huffington Post. Retrieved [04/06/2016] from <http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/queens-speech-data-sharing_uk_573c5de5e4b058ab71e6094d>.

Giannangeli, M. (2016). EU plots new id cards to tax you in ‘another signpost to superstate’. Express. Retrieved [04/06/2016] from <http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/674856/EU-ID-European-Taxpayer-Identification-Number-tax-Superstate-Brexit-EU-referendum>.

White, A. (2016). UK and sweden urge caution over as eu crafts internet regulations. BloomBerg Technology. Retrieved [04/06/2016] from <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-23/britain-sweden-urge-caution-as-eu-crafts-internet-regulations>.

Castillo, M. (2016). Blockchain evangelists plot to retreat to richard branson’s island. Retrieved [04/06/2016] from <http://www.coindesk.com/blockchain-richard-bransons-necker-island/>.

Featured image supplied from Pixabay.

Copyright © 2016 Zoë-Marie Beesley

Creative Commons License Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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