Government moves to block VPN as Ugandans vow to dodge social media tax

6 July 2018

Telecoms

KAMPALA. Government has moved to block Virtual Private Networks (VPN) that several Ugandans have installed on their mobile gadgets in a bid to dodge government’s social media tax.

The Shs200 daily social media tax took effect yesterday, forcing some Ugandans to resort to VPN, a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet. However, the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, said they have all the needed software to block VPN services.

“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,” Mr Mutabazi said.

He added: “We have all the systems needed to block the virtual private networks already here and the government will move anytime to effect it.”

Mr Mutabazi also said in situations where some individuals have circumvented the system, they will be subjected to the same taxes, with possible surcharges to access the Over The Top (OTT) services.

Whereas many have successfully installed VPN, they have had to incur extra costs because some VPN networks are also among those taxed.

A similar message from mobile telecommunications company MTN reads: “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 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,” the message adds.

Read the full article on The Monitor here.