Internet users in Uganda will now pay social media tax for using WhatsApp and Facebook in order to reduce gossip among citizens of that country.
Uganda’s parliament imposed a 200 shilling as daily levy on people using the most popular messaging app WhatsApp and the largest social social media Facebook.
The social media tax will also affect those who use other medium like Viber and Twitter.
President Yoweri Museveni is one of the advocate of the social media tax, saying “social media encouraged gossip.”
The social media tax law is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2018 “but there remain doubts about how it will be implemented,” BBC Africa says.
The new Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill will also impose various other taxes, including a 1% levy on the total value of mobile money transactions.
On mobile money transaction tax, civil society groups said it’d will affect poorer Ugandans who rarely use banking services.
But Uganda State Minister for Finance David Bahati defended it, saying the increase in the new tax were needed to help Uganda pay off its growing national debt.
How will Uganda’s Social media tax be implemented?
The social media tax in Uganda raises a question of how the country would be able to know the exact number of people using WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms in the country.
Though, the government is compelling mobile operators to properly register all mobile phone SIM cards, how that would assist in the new law remains elusive.
We don’t really know if mobile operators would be able to know which particular social media one uses on his mobile line.
And of the 23.6 million mobile phone subscribers in the country, only 17 million use the internet, Reuters reports.
It’d be recalled that Mr Museveni pushed for the social media law back in March in a letter he wrote his Finance Minister Matia Kasaija insisting that the revenue collected by the social media tax would help the country “cope with consequences of olugambo [gossiping]”.
Will Uganda’s Social media tax limit use of internet?
Mr Kasaija said there should be no concern over the new tax, saying it’s not intended to limit people’s use of the internet.
“We’re looking for money to maintain the security of the country and extend electricity so that you people can enjoy more social media, more often, more frequently,” he told Reuters.
Social media have become an important political tool all over the world including Uganda and other African countries.
Uganda’s authorities have been worried about how Ugandans use social media particularly during electioneering campaign.
At a time in 2016. President Museveni insisted that social media was used for spreading lies.
The social media tax has been condemned by activists within the East African countries, saying it’d affect freedom of expression.
Some African countries lately have been trying to come up with laws trying to curb freedom of expression.