A proposed French Internet tax is just the latest sign of an increasing desire among the major European Union economies to do more to force the big U.S. tech companies to pay their "fair share" of taxes.
The French Internet tax, an option proposed in a 150-page report released last week, would attempt to tax the collection of personal data. It's directed at such U.S. tech titans as Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Facebook Inc. (NYSE: FB) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL).
All four companies collect massive amounts of personal data. Google collects information via its free search engine; Facebook, through the activities of users on its social network. Amazon and Apple collect credit card data and customer habits via their retail operations.
"We want to work to ensure that Europe is not a tax haven for a certain number of Internet giants," France's digital economy minister, Fleur Pellerin, told reporters in Paris last Friday.