Uganda imposes social media tax to curb 'gossip'

Kalerkantho Online   

3 July, 2018 20:40 PM

Uganda imposes social media tax to curb 'gossip'

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

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The Ugandan government has introduced a tax on people using social media, angering citizens who think it is an attack on free speech.

Users of sites including Facebook were warned in March that they would be taxed by Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's president since 1986.

Mr Museveni had reportedly complained about online gossip in a letter which encouraged the country's finance minister to levy a tax to address the consequences of social media.

Users in the county are required to pay a daily tax of 200 Ugandan shillings, roughly 4p, in order to access social media - in addition to data fees.

Telecommunications service providers issued a joint statement explaining that the tax would be charged on "over the top services" including Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, a prominent human rights lawyer in Uganda, said that people in the country were "bitter" with the tax, which "was brought in bad faith".

"The reasons for it were anti-people, were anti-social, not development-oriented," Mr Rwakafuuzi said.

The government said it hoped to collect 400bn Ugandan shillings over the course of the financial year through the tax.
Its own figures state that about 40% of Uganda's 41 million people are active internet users.

"I am not going to propose a tax on internet use for educational, research or reference purposes," Mr Museveni said.

Uganda is not the only African country to have implemented financial costs for web users.

In Tanzania, the government passed rules making it mandatory for bloggers and administrators of other forums like YouTube channels to register with the regulator - and pay $900 (£647) for the privilege.

People accessing social media services with a mobile phone in Uganda are charged in what the country's finance minister described as a good way to "maintain the security of the country".

The Ugandan government's criticism of social media use rose sharply in February 2016, when Ugandans voted in a tight presidential election.


Source: Sky News