The government of Uganda started taxing social media use on 1 July 2018, requiring Internet service providers to block access to services until users pay a tax of 200 shillings (R0.72) per day, TorrentFreak reported.
Everything from Tinder to Tumblr must be blocked, according to the government decree, and ISPs allow users to make the tax payment from their mobile phones.
In response to the new tax, the search term “VPN” spiked on Google in Uganda.
Following news of the sudden popularity of VPNs in Uganda, the executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission, Godfrey Mutabazi, issued a statement in which he said it is more expensive to use a VPN than to pay the tax.
He also said the agency has the capabilities to block access to VPNs in the country.
“We have technology that will block the VPN services so that no one dodges the taxes. Different VPN systems continue to come with more advanced features to circumvent government crackdowns, but governments around the world have continued to block them,” said Mutabazi.
Frank Tumwebaze, the minister of IT and communications said the revenue generated through the new tax will help the government improve Internet services.