Louisiana Mulling $0.15 Internet Fee

We've always heard that the best things in life are free. We've also heard that nothing great lasts forever. Mix those two mantras together, and you get this. Down in Louisiana, a $0.15 surcharge is being tossed around as an idea to stop online criminal activity (and raise state income, no doubt), which would be levied on Internet access across the state. Sadly, the House has already voted in favor with an 81-9 vote, though Governor Bobby Jindal strongly opposes.

The idea here is to raise money to finance a division that investigates Internet crimes, particularly online sex crimes against children. According to those who got the ball rolling, the measure would raise some $2.4 million per year for the department, and as with all "minor taxes," those in support are suggesting that such a small tax would be hardly noticeable. Of course, it's not the initial tax that stings -- it's the fact that lawmakers will likely raise it year after year that really has us worried.

Opposers view this as an unlawful tax on Internet access, and there's hardly any debating the fact that the open and untaxed access has enabled the Web to become a serious powerhouse for economic development. This week, the bill is heading to the Senate for more debate, and if passed, the charge would begin in 2010 and would show up on users' monthly ISP bills. As expected, public access points (libraries and schools, for example) would be exempt.