Uganda’s Social media tax law went into effect on the 1st of July despite the outcry. For those who didn’t see this post, the Social media tax law in Uganda means that Ugandans now have to pay Sh200 on the days they want to use social media.
As expected, Ugandans are already searching for ways to evade the tax, with a lot of people resorting to VPNs.
As a result, the government has made moves to block access to VPNs entirely. According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC):
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
While it is likely that VPNs can be blocked, the act in itself is a classic game of cat and mouse.
VPNs were blocked in China, but the Chinese citizens still use them. How? VPN providers constantly work to outpace the government by renting extra cloud servers to buoy their networks and making user activity look like permitted internet traffic.
However, according to MTN:
“VPNs are a common global method of accessing internet services while masking the nature of the internet service being used. It is because such VPNs can then be used to access OTT services indirectly that the government has included such sites as being subject to OTT tax. Unfortunately, the creation of a VPN service is relatively easy and takes place outside of Ugandan borders. For this reason, the operators will block access to VPNs that the authorities declare to be used for OTT services unless the consumer has paid their OTT tax.”
So, it looks like there is no escaping this one.
Or so they ‘think!’