Uganda Is The Latest African Country To Pass A Ridiculous Social Media Tax Bill

Three weeks ago, Tanzania's very backwards and super regressive social media and blogging license regulations went into effect - online bloggers, podcasters, online radio personalities, and even YouTube personalities will now be required to apply for blogging licenses (to blog) from the TCRA and pay annual fees, you know, like radio and TV. 

Well, the bloody ridiculous buck doesn't stop with Tanzania because the social media bill that the Ugandan parliament approved and passed a month ago, has now gone into effect. The Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill includes a tax on social media usage, which means Ugandans will have to pay money to the government on days that they access social media platforms.

(Photo: Dignited)

As we earlier reported, the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, wrote a letter to the treasury stating that social media encouraged gossip that was costing Uganda time and income. So from now (July 1st), Ugandans now have to pay  a 200 shilling ($0.05, N20) levy per day to use social media platforms.

At the time, it was unclear how they were going to enforce it, but it has become clear that the taxed will be lievied via Ugandans' mobile networks and are expected to pay the tax via various Mobile money platforms. The government of Uganda expects you to pay your Taxes before you can do anything on your favourite social media App. MTN Uganda has already sent out an SMS to their customers telling them that WFT and SWIFT (Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) will no longer be available to users who have not paid their taxes.

(Photo: innov8tiv)

There are reports from certain users who can no longer access specific Apps on MTN and Airtel networks.

According to a leaked presentation by Uganda Revenue Authority(URA), Uganda’s tax body, SWIFT and Telegram, Google Allo, Hangouts, Android Messages, iMessages, WeChat, Kakao Talk, Truecaller, Skype, BBM-Free, Signal, ViberYahoo Messenger and tens of others will be taxed.

Ugandans have started to boycott mobile money services (through which they are supposed to pay the social media tax) and VPN searches have skyrocketed over the past few days. So, Uganda is not only hurting mobile money operators - who also have to build infrastructure to accommodate this new development - but decimating ISP traffic as well.  

Here’s the complete list;

Complete list of OTT services to be Taxed in Uganda
Whatsapp
Facebook
Twitter
Truecaller
Google Hangouts
Google Allo
Viber
SnapChat
LINE
Phone+
Call Free
Signal
StealthChat
Tinder
MeetMe
Telegram
IM+
iMessenger
Yahoo Messenger
Facetime
Android Messages
New Messenger
Textra
Instagram
WiCall
WeChat
InMesage
Hi5
Freevideo-Mail.Ru
TextMe
TalkU
LOVOO
Drupe
IMO
Hangouts Dialer
CallerID
MagicApp
Skype
Badoo
Hitwe
SayHi
Ipair-Meet
Tumblr
Kik
Chatouts
Grindr
LiveTalk
Zalo
KakaoTalk
Mood
Plus
LinkdedIN
BBM-Free
Voxer Walkie Talkie
Hike
Moments

Tech and politics. Is there even a difference between the two?