BULGARIA — Bulgaria is levying 10 billion euros ($12.3 billion) in taxes on internet giants, with internet users increasingly wary of the country’s authoritarian leaders.
The country’s Finance Ministry said Thursday it is levilling 10 billion kroner ($12,000) on internet providers that do not comply with laws on surveillance, access to private data and the protection of privacy.
It did not give a figure for the amount of tax, but the country has been criticized for not doing enough to combat online surveillance.
A law introduced last year requires internet service providers to keep a record of users’ internet usage and metadata, and it has also forced companies to disclose customer data.
It has also prompted companies to offer customers refunds, which the Finance Ministry has not yet done.
The new tax is aimed at making Bulgarian internet companies more transparent about their activities and helping users understand who is responsible for data security issues.
Internet providers are not required to hand over user data to the government, and they are not subject to legal requirements to safeguard data.
The Finance Ministry is also requiring online giants to collect and store customer information.
The tax will be levied on companies that provide services such as email, online banking, online shopping, and social media.