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By FutureLaw Desk

A number of netizens of Uganda are now unable to access social media platforms, after the government directive to charge the social media users took effect from  the first day of July 2018.

This unique tax regime came into existence on last month, when the parliament of Uganda passed an amendment to the existing tax which introduced the new tax for use of popular social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Yahoo Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, Skype and others.

As per the law, users of these platforms are required to pay a daily charge of UGX 200 (equivalent to BDT 4.4) before accessing any of the platforms. However, many tech-savvy Ugandans have already taken to proxy servers and virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around having to pay the tax. The new fee is expected to impact usage of social media and mobile money, which now has an additional 1% tax.

About 17 million of Uganda’s 41 million people are active internet users, according to government figures.

Telecom and internet service providers of the country said in a joint statement that the levy would be charged on “Over The Top services,” including access to websites such as Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. The tax will be deducted by service providers that will then pay to the government revenue service.

The Govt. of Uganda argued that the needs of poor citizens had been considered and that the revenue collected from the new taxes would be used to provide services such as free education, free healthcare and roads that are demanded by the citizens.