The Stream

Are Ugandans being forced off social media?

Millions quit social media after government imposes tax to curb online “gossip”.

More than 2.5 million Ugandans have reportedly abandoned social media in protest of a government-imposed levy on 60 online platforms, including Twitter and WhatsApp. Longtime President Yoweri Museveni says the tax, which went into effect this past July, is meant to boost government coffers and curb the spread of “gossip”

Critics, however, contend that the law not only chills free speech but hurts mobile banking systems, which many people in the country rely on. Although the Uganda Communications Commission reports that internet subscriptions and mobile money transactions have both declined heavily, UCC spokesman Ibrahim Bbossa says users are simply adjusting their behaviour. Still, many Ugandans have turned to virtual private networks to get around the tax, while promoting the hashtags #NoToSocialMediaTax and #ThisTaxMustGo to demand change from the government.

In this episode, we explore the consequences of Uganda’s social media tax and ask what activists are doing to push the government to reverse course.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Rosebell Kagumire @RosebellK
Editor, AfricanFeminism 

Daniel Bill Opio @BillOpio
Lawyer & Executive Director, CyberLine

Andrew Mwenda @AndrewMwenda
Journalist & founder, The Independent

George Ogola @Ogolah
Associate Professor, University of Central Lancashire

Read more:
Uganda introduces social media tax despite criticism – Al Jazeera
Millions of Ugandans quit internet services as social media tax takes effect – The Guardian
Uganda’s regressive social media tax stays, at least for now – Wired

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