Under the guise of research and service fees, the latest governemnt money grab has been titled Non-Productive Time Fee (NPTF). In cooperation with Microsoft, the maker of Windows, new software is being developed and tested in select areas of the country. This software was designed and sent to Winodws users over the summer of 2009, promoted as a security patch for all Windows computers this monitoring packages was delivered through Microsoft Update and automatically installed.
What does this software do? In a nutshell, it runs anytime the computer is turned up and monitors what the person is doing, if the activity is considered “Non-Productive” it records how much “Non-Productive Time” (NPT) has elasped and forwards that information to a government server the next time it can connect to the internet.
What is NPT? So far investigations have revealed the following NPT activities, playing games of any sort, reading or sending email, browsing most internet websites (Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Mysypace, and Facebook to namea few), there are some exceptions to the web browsing, visiting Democratic Congress and Senate seat websites, most liberal blogs, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC news sites and similar sites do not get counted. Strange behaviors were observed when reading the Fox News website, the counter appeared to increment 5 minutes for every 1 minute of actual time.
Exactly how the fees will broken down per minute has not been released or determined but will be assessed by the Internal Revenue Service and calculated and asessed during annual Income Tax filings beginning April 2010.
The secretly passed bill contains a number of pages of specific language that “Statistically, most African American and Latino households in the U.S. do not have a computer in the home, compared to the average white household which has a national average of 2 or more computers”. This fee is considered a tool to further level the playing field by only taxing those with free time that can be spent in a non-productive manner. Additionally, it is important to note this act is being labeled as a “service fee” not a tax, unlike taxes that require a 7 year record to be maintained by the payer and the collector, service fees are only recorded and retained for 90 days after collection. No fee records need be kept beyond this window, proof that the fees were assessed or paid will leave no trail.
It is also worthy to note that Microsoft was not a willing participant to make this addition to their Windows Operating Systems. They received sum of $3.5B to write the software and add it to the list of required software to be “Updated” for all computers. Although if history has taught any company, not playing ball with the Obama administration can pose dire consequences, General Motors, Chrysler, as well as a number of financial institutions discovered earlier this year. Simply being unwilling to cooperate with the Obama administrations’ demands may lead down a rather unpleasant path.