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Govt to block VPN technology as social media tax begins to bite

UCC’s Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi has vowed to block the VPN as Ugandans attempt to evade the social media tax(FILE Photo)

KAMPALA – The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has said it is going to block that Virtual Private Networks (VPN) in a bid to block Ugandans who are seeking to avoid payment of government’s Shs200 daily social media tax.

A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet. VPN technology was developed as a way to allow remote users and branch offices to securely access corporate applications and other resources.

However, UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi said they have all the software and machines to block VPN.

“We have technology that will block the VPN services so that no one dodges the taxes. We have all the systems needed to block the virtual private networks already here and the government will move anytime to effect it,” he said on Sunday.

The social media tax took effect on July 1 following a directive from President Museveni to the Finance ministry to widen the tax revenue base by taxing social media users as well.

However, Ugandans have rushed to install VPN on their mobile gadgets to access social media sites in a bid to dodge the tax.

But Mr Mutabazi said: “Different VPN systems continue to come with more advanced feature to circumvent government crackdowns, but governments around the world have continued to block them.”

Payment for the social media taxes will only be made using mobile money platforms or any electronic wallets.

A joint message by Airtel, MTN and Africell indicate that whatever you pay for, if it’s only for a day, it will run until midnight of that day. This means even if a customer subscribes at 11:50pm, the services will expire at midnight. To be able to use the OTT services such as WhatsApp you are required to pay an OTT TAX of shs.200 per day. If you don’t pay the tax, you will not be able to use the listed OTT services even though you may have a valid data bundle. The OTT TAX is shs.200 per day of Access. You can however choose to pay for 1 day, 7 days or 30 days of access.

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