Africa seems to be in trouble again. This time, it is happening in Uganda.
Since Sunday, July 1, 2018, citizens in that African country started paying a daily social media tax to the government.
How much it costs: The payment is 200 Ugandan shillings or 5 U.S. cents a day to use social media or mobile money in Uganda.
Democracy: Many believe that the social media tax is not only to raise revenue for government but to curtail freedom of speech in a country that has suffered decades of brutal dictatorship.
The payment allows one to use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype and the rest. Those who cannot afford to pay cannot use social media.
The government claims the money is to pay for the huge social media infrastructure it put in place. But the money isn’t going to Facebook founder or to the CEOs of other tech companies mainly based in the United States.
The implementation of the controversial law forcing mobile users to pay taxes to use mobile money and social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Skype, went into effect at midnight Sunday in Uganda.
“When I woke up, I was surprised that I had not received any messages on my Whatsapp or messenger. I could not login to my Twitter account either,” one Uganda resident posted on Facebook, according to Ugandan news outlet the Daily Monitor.
“This was strange given the fact that I had just bought 10 GB of data two days ago. I was about to call my telecom service provider then I remembered it is July 1, 2018, the day when government said it would implement social media tax on orders of our President.”
The Daily Monitor reported that frustrated some Ugadans were getting around by using VPN.
According to The Daily Nation of Kenya, “the idea was first floated in March, when President Yoweri Museveni reportedly wrote a letter complaining to the finance minster about online gossip and suggesting a tax be introduced to “cope with consequences.”
“In May, parliament passed legislation introducing the tax on “Over The Top” social media that provided messaging services. And now, it’s finally been implemented.
“Users can pay the tax using mobile money. Ugandan telecom providers sent out a statement instructing users how to pay with mobile money using their services—because of course, it’s not easy to pay for something using a payment service that you have to pay a tax on in order to use,” Daily Nation reported.
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