US Report: Taxman says he never wanted to tax Internet

About once a year for the past three years, word has spread that the US Federal Communications Commission was about to regulate or tax the Internet, triggering a deluge of protests by people all over the world.

Trouble is, the agency has never moved to become the overseer or taxman of cyberspace and says it has no desire to do so.

It happened again this week, when an upcoming FCC decision over how local telephone carriers pay each other for exchanging traffic was widely misinterpreted as having some bearing on Internet regulation or fees. The decision is expected to be released later this month.

Some consumer groups charged the FCC's expected decision would require that per-minute charges imposed on long-distance calls be imposed on calls connecting computer users to the Internet.

With the volume of protests rising, FCC Chairman William Kennard issued a statement on Friday declaring the issue "has NOTHING to do with consumer Internet charges."

The agency first decided in the 1980s to exempt calls to American Internet service providers from charges associated with long-distance calls and reaffirmed the policy as recently as April.

"The FCC has repeatedly stated for the past decade -- and is stating again today -- that it is NOT repealing the ISP exemption that (exempts) Internet service providers from paying per-minute charges to local telephone companies," Kennard added, using capital letters for emphasis. "This is one of the great enduring urban myths."