A bill has been introduced in the New York legislature that would place a tax on the data collected and used by business for commercial purposes, although the threshold for being subject to the tax appears to be very high.
The bill, S4959, was introduced earlier this week by state Sen. Liz Krueger, the chair of the New York Senate Finance Committee. Commercial, for-profit enterprises would be taxed on a sliding scale if collect data, excluding contact information and credit card details, on more than 1 million New Yorkers per month. At that level, companies would be required to pay a tax of $0.05 for every consumer over 1 million and less than 2 million. The tax increases to $0.50 for every New Yorker over 10 million for whom a company collects data in a given month. The population of New York State is about 19.5 million people.
“It’s been said of social media that if you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product, and when it comes to today’s internet, that’s more true than ever,” said Sen. Krueger in a statement. “Every time New Yorkers visit social media sites or shop online, their data is being harvested for profit, often without their having any idea it’s happening. Big companies are making a fortune from New Yorkers’ data – it’s time for New Yorkers to get a little something in return.”
The bill does not define consumer data, other than to specifically exclude email addresses, phone and fax numbers, home addresses, mailing addresses, and credit card numbers. Consumer data is otherwise defined as: information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked with a consumer, whether directly submitted to the commercial data collector by the consumer or derived from other sources.
In announcing the legislation, Sen. Krueger said that “only a small fraction” of businesses collect data on more than 1 million New Yorkers every month.