Sunday, April 1, 2012

URL Shortening Solutions Act

Quoted without comment from the Puffington Host:

WASHINGTON (April 1): To protect the burgeoning social media industry, House Democrats are proposing regulation to head off an impending shortage of shortened URLs.

Their new legislation, the "URL Shortening Solutions Act of 2012” would impose a tax of 1¢ per 10,000 shortened URLs on providers of URL shortening services used by Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to facilitate the sharing of web addresses.

The measure is co-sponsored by more than 40 members of the Congressional Internet Caucus. Other provisions in the 231-page bill would include funds for social media research and education, and also transfer payments to fund social media services for those disadvantaged due to socio-economic status.

The legislation was applauded by academic economists who saw the move as an imaginative approach to correct market failure. “It addresses a tragedy of the commons that would otherwise reduce the availability of crucial Web 2.0 services for American consumers,” said Dr. Gno Sentz, an assistant professor of economics at U. Mass. Amherst. “At the same time, it helps maintain the US lead in social media, which is crucial for our competitiveness in information technologies.”

The measure faces an uncertain future in the House. It drew cautious support from Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chair of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, a member of the Internet Caucus who had not committed to supporting the bill. However, other Republicans were expected to oppose the measure due to pressure from Tea Party and other anti-government activists.

If the House legislation failed, the Administration was considering implementing a similar measure via executive order. Aides to Commerce Secretary John Bryson said that no immediate action was likely on an initiative that opponents would likely to demonize as a “tax increase,” but predicted that the executive branch would have “more flexibility” after the November 6 presidential election.

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