Gordon Brown proposes 'web traffic tax'

Gordon Brown's efforts to stimulate the economy have shifted online.

Gordon Brown's efforts to stimulate the economy have shifted online.

The UK Prime Minister is to announce a congestion-charge-style tax on web traffic.

The move, which is likely to meet opposition from the digital lobby, would impose a levy on traffic going to the most popular websites during peak traffic times.

Users will pay a temporary subscription to gain access behind a government firewall. The amount is not known, but is expected to be in the region of 25p a time. Economists have said it had the potential to wipe the national budget deficit in less then six months.

The Prime Minister's announcement is timed to coincide with his plans to persuade the G20 group of national leaders to back his global plans for a co-ordinated fiscal stimulus in London tomorrow.

Analysts have said Brown's congestion charge tax on websites will provoke a backlash from publishers who have tried a number of avenues to make money online.

Many have abandoned the paid-for content model in favour of free access, only to see the government impose a levy that would effectively tax their traffic.

A spokesperson for the Guardian, a website likely to be affected by the tax, said the plan was "bonkers" and just the latest example of Brown's "big ideas" being completely unworkable.

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