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eBook VAT Has Been Changed in the EU At Least 8 Times This Year

Everyone has heard that the UK reduced the tax collected on the sale of books earlier this year, but did you know they were not the only ones?

I was just browsing the KDP community when I noticed that, starting in January, Amazon has reported that multiple EU member states have taken advantage of changes to EU rules on ebook VAT status, and lowered the tax rate for ebooks.

  • Austria – 20% to 10%
  • Netherlands – 21% to 9%
  • Slovenia – 22% to 5%
  • Spain – 21% to 4%
  • UK –  20% to 0%
  • Germany – 7% to 5%
  • Austria – 10% to 5%
  • Bulgaria – 20% to 9%

Before you ask, yes, Austria is on their twice, and no, that was not a mistake. The second change is reportedly a temporary change, and it ends on 31 December 2020. (Bulgaria’s change in VAT also reportedly expires at the end of the year.)

Update: Germany’s VAT change is also temporary. The VAT rate for ebooks was reduced to 7% in December 2019, and then reduced again in response to the pandemic. The 5% rate is set to expire at the end of 2020. Thanks, Ingo!

Have you changed your prices?

image by dailyinvention via Flickr

UK to End VAT on eBooks (But Not Audiobooks)

After a decade of lobbying bu authors and book publishers, the UK government announced this week that the Value Added Tax collected on the sale of ebooks would be reduced to zero starting on 1 December 2020.

The UK Publishers Association is overjoyed, but I see this as a glass half full.

“We are delighted that the Government has decided to zero-rate VAT on digital books and journals in the Budget," Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, said in a statement. "It’s fantastic that the Chancellor has acknowledged the value of reading. The decision to axe the reading tax will bring an end to the illogical and unfair tax on those who need or prefer to read digitally and should contribute to an increase in literacy in the UK. We want to thank all the parliamentarians, organisations and individuals who have supported this campaign and helped make the case for change – we look forward to continuing the important work of making reading accessible for all.”

Under the old rules no VAT was collected on print books sold in the UK, while 20% of the price of an ebook was paid to the UK government. (Yes, the UK has the equivalent of what in the USA would be a 25% national sales tax.) Print books had a 0% VAT rate due to an elitist and archaic belief that books were unique cultural objects. At the same time, ebooks were classified as software.

While this change would appear to be good news, the RNIB reminds us that the glass is only half full. Only ebooks will be getting the zero VAT under the new rule, but audiobooks will not. Speaking in their role as advocates for the visually impaired, the RNIB has a problem with this development:

While we welcome the announcement of a VAT exemption on e-publications, we are disappointed that it appears this won’t be extended to audiobooks. Printed books, magazines and newspapers have been VAT exempt since the 1970s, because it was recognised that there shouldn’t be a tax on reading.

The change recognises the unfairness of taxing some alternative formats and will help widen access for blind and partially sighted people who use e-Readers. However, for many people living with sight loss, audiobooks are their preferred format and allow them to enjoy their favourite titles in the same way as everyone else. It’s not right that they will continue to be charged 20 per cent more for books, and we urge the Government to make sure that audiobooks are included in the exemption.

I don’t know what is more ridiculous, that the UK made this change twenty years after it was obviously a good idea, or that they still managed to screw it up.

Talk about being a day late and a dollar short.

image by Raymond Snijders via Flickr

EU Finally Allows For Lower VAT on eBooks

So six years after EU members were punished for lowering the tax they collect on the sale of an ebook in violation of EU rules, the European Union decided that this wasn’t such a terrible idea after all.

From Reuters:

European Union finance ministers decided on Tuesday to allow lower sales taxes on e-books and other digital publications and to align them to reduced levies applied to paper versions of books and magazines. The deal will allow EU states to apply reduced or even zero VAT rates to electronic publications, which are currently taxed at a minimum of 15 percent because they are treated as electronic services.

“This proposal is part of our efforts to modernize VAT for the digital economy, and enables us to keep pace with technological progress,” said Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger, who chaired the meeting.

The agreement comes after more than two years of talks after a European Commission proposal. The European Parliament supported the plan a year ago.

While it is good that the EU is finally catching up with the market, let’s not forget that it only took them 18 years to reach the conclusion that ebooks should be taxed the same as print books.

Remember, Amazon may have jump started the ebook market in 2007, but the ebook market really got its start in 2000. Many of us had been buying ebooks for years before the Kindle came along, and some had been paying an unreasonably high tax for the privilege.

Okay, things weren’t so bad in the early years before regulators was paying attention, and Europeans could duck paying VAT by buying from US ebook retailers. That doesn’t change the fact that the EU’s tax rules made no sense, and that it took 18 years to change those rules.

It’s almost as if the EU is being run by Vogons.

Brazil Cuts Import Duties on eReaders, Drops Taxes on eBooks

Earlier this week ZDNet and other sites reported that Brazil’s supreme court had reduced or eliminated taxes and import duties on ereaders and ebooks, but I think they are missing the story.

From ZDNet:

E-books are set to become more affordable in Brazil as the Supreme Court has ruled that they will now enjoy the same tax immunity as the pronto counterparts.

The debate on whether e-books should have the same tax treatment as print has been going on since September 2016 and the final ruling on the matter is that print and e-books are indistinguishable from each other.

In addition, reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle will also be tax-immune. However, the ruling stressed that this immunity is not extended to multifunctional devices that may support book reading software such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.

It is expected that in the next few months prices will be lowered across the purveyors of digital content operating in Brazil

According to Wikipedia, Brazil’s standard VAT rate is 42%, while books are tax exempt. This means that Brazilian ebook prices could drop by half in the near future.

And just as importantly, so could the price of ereaders.

Brazil has magnificent import duties which sometimes exceed the price of the imported product by a factor of two. The duties are not reflected in the price of the Kindle, which sells in Brazil for about 30% more than the US price, but 3rd-party ereaders imported by Brazilians can easily cost twice the list price.

Now much of the import duties have been removed (but not all – some Brazilian states impose their own sales taxes).

And that means ereaders are going to get a lot cheaper in Brazil – and Brazilians are probably going to see ereader prices drop a lot faster than ebooks.

After all, how do you know that publishers won’t just keep ebook prices high so they can pocket the difference?

Publish News Brazil

image by Rodnei Reis

European Commission Proposes that eBooks be Sold with Reduced VAT

vogonProving once again that they are the inspiration for Vogons in Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide series, the European Commission announced a couple proposals on Thursday which should lessen the cost and bother of collecting taxes.

The commission proposed the development of a single EU-wide web portal where businesses could submit their Value Added Tax receipts for each of the EU’s member states. (The EU has a stupid rule that VAT must be collected based on a customer’s location, which necessitated this portal.)

The commission also proposed that ebooks and other digital content be taxed at the same rate as the equivalent physical media.

By introducing an EU wide portal for online VAT payments (the 'One Stop Shop'), VAT compliance expenses will be significantly reduced, saving businesses across the EU €2.3 billion a year. The new rules will also ensure that VAT is paid in the Member State of the final consumer, leading to a fairer distribution of tax revenues amongst EU countries. Our proposals would help Member States to recoup the current estimated €5 billion of lost VAT on online sales every year. Estimated lost revenues are likely to reach €7 billion by 2020 and it is essential that we act now.

Finally, the Commission is delivering on its pledge to enable Member States to apply the same VAT rate to e-publications such as e-books and online newspapers as for their printed equivalents, removing provisions that excluded e-publications from the favourable tax treatment allowed for traditional printed publications.

eBooks are currently taxed at each EU member state’s full VAT rate, while many of the countries collect a much lower VAT on print books, paper newspapers, and similar media.

That incongruity frustrated many in both industry and government, and inspired the governments of France, Luxembourg, and other EU states to pass laws which lowered the VAT rate on ebooks to match print books.

It was only after several of those laws were overturned in an EU court that the European Commission started considering lowering the VAT rate on ebooks.

Because, obviously, following proper procedures is more important than changing an unpopular tax law when it is opposed by multiple countries.

I don’t understand it, either, although I do see where EU bureaucrats (or its predecessor, the EEC) may have inspired the idea for Adams’s Vogons.

In any case, if the proposal is accepted by all EU countries they will have the option – but not the requirement – to lower the VAT on ebooks to match that of paper books.

This could happen as early as mid-2017.

That will be good news for Italy and Malta, which had illegally lowered the VAT on ebooks in December 2014.

Bitkom: One in Three Germans Readers Have Read an eBook

9679140599_ecf4526aa2_hThe German digital trade group Bitkom has released its annual report (PDF) on digital adoption in Germany this week, and the report contained few surprises.

A survey of 2,171 German consumers found that around a quarter of the respondents said they do not read books, and of the remainder about 1 in 3, or 571 people, had read an ebook.

For the most part ebook readers are reading fiction, with self-help and technical books filling out the top 3. The majority (79%) of respondents also insisted they weren’t self-published books, although I’m not sure they could know for sure.

For the most part (86%) the respondents bought their ebooks, but some did borrow ebooks (27%), read free ebooks (14%), or get the ebooks as part of a subscription (13%). Those ebooks were generally read on just a single device, with only 23% saying that they read on multiple devices.

8865523266_a0f943aac1_hThe most popular reading devices were an ereader (46%), laptop (31%), smartphone (24%), tablet (21%), and desktop  (15%). Both the desktop and laptop were less popular reading devices than last year, but the other three categories increased in popularity.

Of the 1,600 respondents who didn’t read ebooks, around two-thirds  could not imagine reading ebooks in the future, while 32% could. (Of course, that 1,600 includes non-readers, so it doesn’t mean as much as you think.)

But even though many don’t read ebooks, the vast majority of the survey group (85%) favored lowering the VAT collected on ebooks to 7%, so that the taxes matched that of paper books.

This is currently illegal under EU regulation, but the EU is (very) slowly moving in that direction.

Bitkom via Literature Cafe

images by Thomas Leuthard5mal5

EU Takes Next Step Towards Lower Taxes on eBooks

5856708903_294549a95a_bRemember all that foofaraw over the past few years where France and other countries lowered the tax they collected on books, the European Union ruled the tax rate illegal (because ebooks weren’t books), the countries protested, and then the EU decided in May 2015 that, okay, maybe lower taxes on ebooks weren’t such a bad idea?

Moving at a typical glacial bureaucratic pace, the European Union has taken the next step towards changing regulations so its member countries can charge a lower tax rate on ebooks.

Last week the EU launched a public consultation on the topic of VAT collected on ebooks. They’re inviting comment from the public on this proposal to "allow Member States the application of reduced rates for electronically supplied publications".

They want to know what you think about the possibility that ebooks might be sold tax-free (as newspapers and books are sold in the UK), what types of digital content should be included, and any possible side effects of the change.

For example, should digital comics be included, or only the more traditional ebooks? What about ebook apps, or ebooks-on-a-stick?

You can find more info, and share your opinion, on the EU’s website.

image by Images_of_Money


Tolino to Cut Royalties on Cheap eBooks to 40%

15213493084_fe17e30d58_hGermany’s leading ebook retail consortium announced on Monday that it is no longer going to pay a 70% royalty on all ebooks distributed through its publishing portal, Tolino Media., BuchReport, and Boersenblatt report that starting on 1 July, Tolino will drop the payout for ebooks costing less than three euros. eBooks priced above that point will continue to earn 70%, but ebooks priced below 3 euros will only generate a 40% royalty. In comparison, Amazon’s KDP pays a 35% royalty for ebooks which sell for less than three euros in Germany.

Tolino explained that operating costs was the driving force behind the change. Jördis B. Schulz, Director Tolino Publishing, explained in a statement that the download cost and payment charges were so high for cheap ebooks that Tolino could no longer justify paying the 70% royalty.

In related news, Tolino will also be withholding a higher VAT rate starting on 1 July, from 7% to 19%.

The change, I’m told, reflects an unanswered question on the business relationship between authors/publishers and distributors like Tolino. A license is taxed at 7%, and a digital service at 19%, and Germany’s tax collectors are insisting that the higher rate applies. Tolino is changing their policy just to be safe.

Launched in 2013, Tolino is an ebook platform where the costs are shared among the participating retailers. It is supported by seven retailers and tech companies (Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Club Bertelsmann, Libri,, and Deutsche Telekom), and has its own servers, mobile apps, ereaders, and tablet.

The consortium had been paying the 70% royalty ever since it launched  Tolino Media, its own publishing platform, last April. When it launched it was limited to authors from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other EU countries. It distributes ebooks to the ebookstores operated by the seven retailers as well as Tolino-partnered ebook sellers in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.

image by sbchemnitz

New Error-Ridden Report Looks at eBook Market in Europe

54122690_5440037144_bThe European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) just wasted a lot of people’s time. The EPRS has published a new briefing document on the state of the ebook market in Europe, but unfortunately they did not bother to get their facts straight before the report was released.

This 12-page PDF summarized the current laws, piracy, taxes, relative market share, and other issues about ebooks in Europe. I can’t vouch for all of the report (it links to a lot of seriously doubtful news stories, and has other errors), but it does bring to light certain details like the fact that the underdeveloped ebook markets in Europe are still seeing brisk sales of English-language ebooks.

This seems to be especially true for the central and eastern European (CEE) region where English as a second language is increasingly popular. Even though this development is currently difficult to quantify, British export statistics reveal that English books account for 10% to 15% of the local market in Slovenia, around 6% in Latvia, Lithuania, and Croatia, and 3% to 5% in all other CEE countries. Data from research also indicates that in 2013, 70% of the 100 top-selling titles in the Slovene I-Bookstore were in English. In contrast, English titles accounted for only 1% of the top 100 titles in Germany, 2% in France, and 3% in Italy.

The section on VAT is especially worth reading. It touches on the ebook tax situation on a global level, telling us for example that Peru charges the its standard VAT on ebooks, while Brazil does not. (Of course, that section is also incomplete; it neglects to identify the US as not having a VAT.)

You might want to skip the section on Google Books, however. There are numerous factual errors, including the not entirely accurate claim that Google Books is the same thing as the HaithiTrust (a related but separate digitization project).

In fact, the whole report should be taken with a grain of salt, but if you like you can find more in the PDF.

Reader beware.


image by Matt Hammond

Apple Raises iPad Prices in Germany to Cover a New "You Must be a Pirate" Tax

I hope German consumers got their iPad last year, because Apple raised the prices in Germany for its iDevices on Friday.

The gadget maker told the AP today that it had increased the prices to cover the cost of newly assessed private copyright levy. According to Bitkom, the new levy, or more correctly the new tax, adds between five and six euros to the price of smartphones sold in Germany, and between seven and nine euros to the price of a tablet like the iPad.


The private copyright levy is a tax charged to consumers when they buy media and electronics capable of making copies. The idea was pioneered in Germany in 1965, and has since spread to most of Europe, Canada, and other parts of the world. It originally applied to cassette tapes, but has since been expanded to include external hard disks, storage media like flash drives, CD-Rs, computers (in Germany, at least), and now mobile devices.

The amount collected, and the devices affected, vary from one country to the next. Spain, for example, repealed its private copying levy in 2012, only to decide to pay the tax out of its own coffers. Finland followed suit this year, and the UK does not collect a levy. The French private copying levy, on the other hand, raised €208 million in 2013, and represents almost 60% of the total collected in the European Union.

Also known as the "you must be a pirate" tax, in many countries the private copyright levy is paid to collection societies with the ostensible goal of compensating creators for the piracy copying that is assumed to be going on.


However, due to the archaic nature of the tax, in many places it is still intended to compensate music and film creators, and not book authors (probably because books were so late to go digital). Also, since the fees are sent to collection societies like Gema, there’s serious question as to whether creators actually benefit from the tax.

The many inconsistencies, as well as the dubious benefits, has emboldened some to push for the European Union to junk the private copying levy, or at least harmonize it across the EU.

That is still a work in progress, however.

Macrumors, AP

image by avaragado,  juanpol

Poland Challenges EU Ruling on eBook Tax Rates

5857281616_193133084b_bWhen the European Court of Justice ruled earlier this year that France and Luxembourg could no longer tax ebooks like they were books but must instead charge the higher standard tax rate, the ruling proved unpopular, with four EU member states protesting the decision.

Now one of those countries is backing up its words with a legal challenge. The Bookseller reports that Poland has challenged Europe’s tax regulations on procedural grounds:

Last week, Poland’s Constitutional Court challenged the ruling that VAT on e-books must be at member states’ higher, standard rates and requested a review of the position on the grounds that the European Parliament was not consulted on the legislative procedure for the compilation of the list of EU VAT exemptions. Poland’s constitutional court also argued the ruling breached fiscal neutrality – meaning the purchase of a printed book versus an e-book equivalent should not be distorted by the differing VAT treatments imposed by the EU.

To recap, under the EU’s tax laws books are granted a special status and taxed at a lower rate (in some member nations, books aren’t taxed at all) while ebooks are classified as a service and taxed at each nation’s standard VAT (15% to 25%, usually).

Over the past few years several EU countries have challenged the regulations by changing their own national tax laws. In 2012 France and Luxembourg were the first to lower the taxes collected on ebook sales, followed by Italy and Malta in late 2014. (France and Luxembourg’s legal maneuver proved unsuccessful earlier this year when they lost the court battle before the European Court of Human Justice, but I’m told that Italy and Malta are still charging the lower tax rate.)

The vigorous debate over the ebook tax rate has led the European Commission to propose a lower tax rate on ebooks. That proposal would be put forward sometime in early 2016, but now thanks to Poland’s legal challenge it could be preempted before it becomes law.

image by Images_of_Money

The VATmess is About to Get Messier for Indie Authors and Publishers (If That’s Even Possible)

2592570286_0fedc257e3_oWhen the EU tax laws changed earlier this year (aka the #VATmess) and forced sellers to collect VAT based on where their EU customers were located, it caused an incredible mess.

Many, including even ecommerce platforms, were unprepared for the headaches and the extra paperwork required to file 28 sets of tax documents for 28 EU countries. In fact, some sellers found that they could not cope, and instead swore off direct sales to customers in the EU.

And now it looks like the problem is going to get worse. Techcrunch reports that a baker’s dozen countries, including Japan, are following in the EU’s footsteps.

It took Europe the best part of a decade to devise and implement VAT MOSS, with much internecine squabbling among the 28 member states along the way (hence the lack of agreement over a minimum threshold, which was reputedly being pushed for by the U.K. and others).

There will be no such delays for their international counterparts, as the ground has been paved by the EU; there are no international negotiations required, and countries are keen to protect their national tech champions and collect more tax revenues.

Therefore, for those who want to sell their digital services legally, this means more compliance, more returns and incremental cost (as a number of jurisdictions require you to have a local accountant file your returns and deal with any investigations).

You can find the thirteen countries at the end of this post.

Some, like Japan, Switzerland, Kenya, Singapore, Australia, and Ghana, have minimum payment thresholds so high that most authors and publishers probably won’t  have to worry about having to pay. They would have to be immensely popular in those countries before it became an issue.

But other countries on this list require that sellers collect and remit local taxes, no matter how petty the funds might be. This is the same onerous burden that the EU inflicted on sellers with VATmess, and we all know how that turned out.

The cost of doing business with customers in the countries listed below has increased (or will increase) to the point that, well, it won’t be worth the bother. Between the requirement for a local accountant, and the headaches of simply having to learn the tax laws for another dozen localities, the overhead exceeds the potential sales.

And to make matters worse, even more countries are salivating at the idea of a tax windfall. Canada, India, Indonesia, Israel, New Zealand, Turkey, Russia, and Thailand are all reportedly planning to impose similar regulations on foreign sellers.

Those new regulations will likely result in the same outcome as the VATmess. The larger platforms with either add more code to their financial systems to handles the taxes (or, as in the case of Patreon, pretend it’s not their problem) while the smaller independent sellers will decide it’s not worth the hassle.

With Amazon representing the majority of ebook sales, the new morass of tax regulations probably won’t directly affect most authors or publishers. But the extra layers of red tape will still act to discourage independent direct sales, concentrating more sales in the major platforms.

So rather than level the playing field, as the EU intended, the new rules are having the opposite (but entirely predictable) effect.

Country Tax introduced Approx threshold (USD) Local accountant required?
Switzerland a while back $100k Yes
Singapore a while back $750k Yes
Ghana a while back $35k Yes
Madagascar a while back ? Yes
Norway July 2011 $6k No
Iceland Nov 2011 $7k Yes
Kenya Sept 2013 $50k Yes
South Africa June 2014 $4k Yes
Angola Nov 2014 ? Yes
Albania Jan 2015 nil Yes
South Korea July 2015 nil Yes
Japan October 2015 $80k Yes
Australia July 2017 $50k ?

image by x_jamesmorris

Amazon, Kobo Announce Price Policy Changes for Japanese eBook Sales

6349498997_03712781d6_bHere’s a quick heads up to remind authors that Amazon and Kobo will be changing how they collect taxes on ebooks sold in Japan.

Kobo and Amazon have each sent out reminders over the past week that, starting 1 October, they will be bundling Japan’s 8% consumption tax into the price of the ebooks sold in that country.

eBooks distributed through KDP and Kobo Writing Life and sold in the local Kobo and Kindle Stores will no longer have the taxes applied at the point of sale. Now the taxes will be reflected in the list price for the ebooks (just like VAT in Europe).

Both Kobo and Amazon have sent out notices so authors have time to adjust their prices. You can read the Kobo notice in their blog post, and you can find a copy of Amazon’s KDP email at the end of this post.

This shift represents the latest stage in Japan’s two-year-old plan to close the ebook tax loophole and tax foreign ebook retailers. It’s unclear whether it will generate additional funds, although it is bound to cause many headaches.

Kobo, for example, say that they were already collecting the required tax. It is unclear whether Amazon was collecting the tax, but given their habits of (legally) avoiding collecting taxes in Europe there’s a good chance they were pulling a similar trick in Japan.


Starting October 1, 2015 an 8% consumption tax will be applied to all ebooks sold to customers living in Japan. No action is required of you, but we are notifying you because you currently have one or more titles available through KDP that may be affected by this change.

One-time Adjustment for Existing KDP Titles
Beginning October 1, list prices set for will be tax-inclusive, meaning that the 8% consumption tax will be included in the list price you give us. For example, if you set your list price at ¥1250, your new tax-inclusive list price would be ¥1250. Tax will be deducted from this price, and your royalties would be calculated on a resulting price of ¥1157. Keep in mind that you can change your price at any time subject to KDP’s Terms and Conditions….

Setting List Prices for
Starting October 1, to make it easier to set customer friendly list prices without having to calculate tax, authors will set list prices for the JP marketplace that include consumption tax. To accommodate this, the KDP pricing grid will be updated to accept tax-inclusive list prices. In the pricing page, authors will also see their suggested price without tax to help them understand how royalties will be calculated. For those authors who set their JP marketplace price automatically from their US list price, we will convert the US list price to local currency and that will be the list price that includes tax.

For more information about this change, visit our Help pages.

image by eblaser

Spain’s Google Tax is Proving Immensely Successful in Its Goal of Suppressing Debate and Free Speech

Piquete unitario en Grán Vía. Huelga General en Madrid. When Spain passed its Google Tax in October 2014, the obvious flaws in forcing websites to pay for the privilege of linking to content made me wonder whether the Spanish government or someone had an ulterior motive in getting the law passed.

Over the past week it has become clear why the Spanish govt passed this law. The Google tax was never about compensating creators, nor about getting Google to pay its fair share. No, the secret motivation was the suppression of the free press, and the free speech it represented.

While that does sound like a conspiracy theory, when you line up the facts it suddenly becomes quite the plausible conclusion.

Earlier this week the Spanish Association of Publishers of Periodical Publications (AEEPP) released a report that showed that the Google Tax has had a severe negative impact on the Spanish news industry. Aggregators like Google News are no longer operating in Spain, and that has drastically reduced the amount of traffic going to news sites by an average of 16%.

That report was well-covered earlier this week by Techdirt, so much so that I was going to pass on the story and simply link to them, and it showed that the Google Tax was disproportionately hurting smaller independent news sites and had caused a bunch news aggregators to shut down or pull out of Spain.

It’s now a lot harder for a news site to make its voice heard in Spain, which I would argue was the intent of the Spanish political party that backed Google Tax.

And here is an example of why details matter.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the Google Tax was passed into law last year in a vote that was split upon party lines. The only party that backed the law was the Popular Party, which currently holds a slim majority in the Senate and Chamber of Delegates (Spain’s national legislature).

That detail is important because the Popular Party is also responsible for passing a law earlier this year that made it illegal to disparage the police. From the Telegraph:

The first known individual to fall foul of Spain’s controversial new “gag law” has spoken out against what he sees as the repression of free speech after he received a fine for describing his local police force as "slackers" on Facebook.

Eduardo Díaz, a 27-year-old salesman from Tenerife, told the newspaper El Mundo that the comment he posted on his mayor’s Facebook page about the decision to provide the local police force with a new and larger headquarters was “just a criticism, not an insult. I get the impression that they are trying to silence the voice of critical citizens”.

Spain’s citizens’ safety law came into effect on July 1 after the conservative Popular Party (PP) government used its parliamentary majority to pass the legislation in the face of harsh criticism from other parties and civil society groups.

Not only is it illegal in Spain to say mean things about the police, it is also illegal to photograph the police. And it gets worse from there.

Spain’s gag law is a laundry list of civil rights violations. It’s now a crime in Spain to participate in a protest, disrupt a public event, or engage in social media activism. It is even illegal to not have your ID on you when you are stopped by the police.

This law is so bad that Techdirt described it as the Spanish government going full police state.

I agree, and that is why I also believe that Spain’s repressive government came up with a subtle plan to sabotage a free and unfriendly press. That plan was the Google tax, a law which served no useful purpose and which no one wanted.

This law was so reviled that even the Spanish newspaper publishers association begged its govt to repeal the law before it went into effect.

No one in tech wanted it.

No one in the news industry wanted it.

And yet Spain still passed the law.

Tell me that there was no ulterior motive, I dare you.

image by GonmiLibertinus