LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – SB558 has been filed by State Senator Trent Garner and it looks to tax ad-generated revenues from social media companies.
Garner says one way to begin to regulate social media for fairness and to prevent censoring is to implement a tax.
“So one of the ways we learned we can control and put them under regulations so we can make sure their fair and equitable to everybody is to put a taxation on their ad revenue.”
Other states have similar proposals right now and Garner says his bill is modeled after ones in Ohio and Oklahoma.
Garner believes with the common use of all social media platforms and what their place in society is nowadays, they should be treated like a utility.
“This brings our laws up to the 21st-century how social media is more like a utility or basic communication things that we use we need to treat a massage make sure that we take care of the people of Arkansas,” Garner said.
A fiscal impact has not been done on this proposal just yet but the revenue the state could generate is what Garner calls “substantial”.
The funds from this tax would not go into the General Revenue Fund but would go towards two specific things. Ten percent would go to the Arkansas State Police Fund to assist with fighting cybercrimes against children.
Garner says the state would see a huge impact with those dollars, “So this would be a big deal, to be able to fund that, it’s always woefully underfunded in Arkansas. So every dollar we put in there will have a concrete impact on both making sure the people the situation to get out of it and then make sure they have the help they need to reset their lives and move past that traumatic experience.”
The other 90% would be earmarked for the Arkansas Acceleration Fund to assist with rural broadband expansion.
The pandemic has accelerated the need for broadband across the state for things like telehealth and virtual learning.
Garner said the internet will be as necessary as pen and paper for previous generations schooling, “For my child who’s four and my little girl who’s two Internet access is gonna be just important as pen and paper that’s the new reality of learning.”
Garner has been more of a tax cutter in the past but he believes that big tech companies that do business in Arkansas should be paying their fair share to help with the advancement of the state.
He said especially if broadband is expanded to parts of the state that have not had it then more people can use their sites, “So that’s a win-win only do we get to make these social media companies play the fair game that everybody else is playing we also can fund our advancement 21st-century through that fund.”