Ugandans hunt VPN as social media tax starts

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Ugandans have resorted to virtual private networks (VPN) to avoid paying the Shs 200 daily excise duty charge on Over-The-Top (OTT) services.

The social media tax which affects social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Instagram, Viber, Skype among others, has started today July 1, 2018.

The ISPs – mostly telecommunications companies (MTN, Airtel and Africell) announced in a joint statement that the effective July 1, 2018 internet users would have to pay Shs 200/daily, Shs 1400 a week or Shs 6,000 a month in order to access social media platforms.

Popular platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram were switched off by the telecoms on July 1 at midnight.

The tax can be paid using MTN Mobile Money by dialling *165*2*8#, Airtel Money by dialling *185*2*5# or Africell Money using *144*2*#5. Africell customers can also pay for the tax using Airtel and MTN Money.

Government expects to collect about Shs 400 billion annually from the social media users.

Some activists have taken to social media using the hashtag #NDataWeek to rally on Ugandans who have more than one sim-card to drop at least one of them so the telecoms they accuse of failing to fight for them, can also lose some revenue.

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