Uganda’s parliament has passed a controversial whatsapp tax on people using social media platforms. The law imposes a 200 shilling [$0.05, £0.04] daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Twitter. President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the changes, arguing that social media encouraged gossip. The law should come into effect on 1 July. The new Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill will also impose various other taxes, including a 1% levy on the total value of mobile money transactions.
State Minister for Finance David Bahati told parliament that the tax increases were needed to help Uganda pay off its growing national debt. Experts and at least one major internet service provider have raised doubts about how a daily tax on social media will be implemented, the BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga reports from Uganda. The government is struggling to ensure all mobile phone SIM cards are properly registered.
And of the 23.6 million mobile phone subscribers in the country, only 17 million use the internet, Reuters reports. It is therefore not clear how authorities will be able to identify Ugandans accessing social media sites.