Uganda is taxing the use of social networking sites

Uganda has imposed a tax on its citizens using social networking sites in a move aimed at increasing budget cuts in a first-of-its-kind precedent.

The Ugandan parliament has imposed the tax in an effort to increase income, but critics of the law said the move was aimed at stopping criticism of President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986. Users will be required to pay 200 shillings ($ 0.0531) Services such as Facebook, Twitter and Watsab, equivalent to about $ 19 a year in a country with a GDP per capita of $ 615 in 2016, according to World Bank statistics.

Parliament spokesman Chris Aubur said the new tax law was passed on Wednesday as part of an amendment to the tax law and is due to come into effect from the new fiscal year beginning in August.

In turn, a senior Finance Ministry official said mobile operators would be taxed on every smart card used to access any social networking platform. “The new tax is a new way to suppress freedom of expression and to try to eliminate the increasing central role of social networking sites in political action,” said lawyer Nicholas Obio.

40% of Uganda’s 40 million people use the Internet. Facebook and Whatsapp are widely used in Uganda and many other African countries. Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp were blocked by the authorities during the recent presidential elections in 2016, saying they could be used by the opposition to mobilize protests.

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