The human being has a need to communicate. Our lives are based in the daily conversations and interactions we make every day with our peers. Not being able to talk, read, understand, feel, share, and look would mean that life itself would be compromised. What’s the point in existing without communicating?
Fortunately, we are able to do that in a daily basis. And the Internet has provided a very relevant platform to engage in different types of communications: by reading a news site, watching online streaming, or even doing research for a school report, we are sharing information.
Social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Youtube, Google Plus, and Skype (just to name a few,) are the preferred way of establishing and forming virtual relationships, sometimes with thousands of miles separating all parties involved.
Communications have mostly migrated to digital platforms
Thanks to them, people can share posts, pictures, videos, and thoughts about their lives and their days, while others like, comment, or react in some way. Social media networks, since their inception, gave us new horizons in life and allowed us to connect with the world, with everything that the phrase implies.
These services were mostly made to be enjoyed for free, with a few exceptions. However, Uganda authorities apparently think otherwise, since they want to charge their citizens with taxes for the use of these networks.
Fortunately, the Internet provides a way to hide the IP address and connection-related information, including the sites and networks visited. It is called VPN, which are the initials for Virtual Private Network, and you are about to learn everything about it and how it can help Ugandans avoid the social media tax.
Social media: our daily cup of coffee
In the past, people’s days started with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, or by tuning in their favorite radio station to hear the news and some music. Now, there has been a paradigm shift: yes, the daily news and the first thing to be done on the day have traveled to our phones, tablets, and mobile devices.
Why? Because they are the places in which our social media accounts are installed. These networks allow us to read the necessary news-related content and the trendiest conversations in our location and in the whole world.
The market is full of social media outlets, and each one has its own purpose. Twitter, for example, is perfect to ventilate our thoughts about something in a short sentence. It is perfect for breaking news.
WhatsApp and Skype allow us to stay connected with friends, family, and acquaintances, whether it is via text, voice, or video. Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook are far more versatile, as is Snapchat: they are all-around connectivity tools for video content, pictures, text, and live feeds, with the opportunity to comment, share, and like.
Social media networks have effectively replaced newspapers and radio stations as our go-to things to do on the day. In fact, the average time spent in these services thoroughly surpasses any old, outdated platform.
Uganda social media tax: all you need to know
It is understandable that we all have to pay taxes for the right to live and interact in a functional society. Taxes are our way to make our contribution to the wellbeing of our community, no matter where we live.
However, it is ridiculous that people have to pay taxes for using Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, or even WhatsApp. Again, these services were mostly designed to be used free of charge. Why would anybody want to make money out of it, other than their founders and developers?
That is the case of Ugandans. In that country, a law that makes people pay 200 shillings (the equivalent of five cents) was recently passed by the parliament. They will be charged in a per-day basis for the use of these “over the top” services, or those that publish content outside the usual distributors.
Five cents per day may not seem as much, but we are talking about a very poor country whose inhabitants don’t need more expenses. Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni is not making many adepts with these developments, especially since he said that the law is because people need to “cope with the consequences” of using these outlets.
In a country like Uganda, where small bits of joy such as the use of social media, will now cost money, people deserve to look at alternatives to bypass these ridiculous measure taken by the government. It is not fair that Ugandans have to empty their pockets to fill out their government’s.
The “reasoning” behind the social media use taxed in Uganda
Activists in Uganda state that the law was passed with the intention of stifling free speech and to apply “soft” censorships in what the people see or visit online. However, public authorities paint another picture.
David Bahati, the country’s Finance Minister, says that the social media tax was enforced because of money. He explains that the nation wants to raise revenue for improving public services.
Yet, we don’t know who believe, since President Museveni recently told the financial minister that the government needed to introduce the social media tax in Uganda because it wanted to control “online gossip.”
Bypassing Uganda’s social media tax with a VPN
It is possible to avoid Uganda social media tax. Since all you need is to browse the web anonymously, you could use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and you will be able to use every social media network you want without having to pay a dime.
Virtual Private Networks, or VPN, are online encryption methods that can hide the user’s IP address (which shows your location) as well as everything it does online (i.e., the shared traffic.) These tools come as online services, and with one, you will be able to open WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Skype without the government even knowing what you are doing.
Since the VPN uses protocols to create a virtual tunnel for your traffic and IP address to travel through remote servers (controlled by the VPN brand and not by your Internet Service Provider), it will remain hidden from all Internet’s third parties and external agents, including the government surveillance or censorship agencies.
Unblocking restricted sites
As a bonus, if you use a VPN in Uganda, you will be able to enjoy sites and services that are meant to be blocked under normal circumstances. VPNs are complete, all-around entertainment suites, since they work with Netflix’s regions, the BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and other platforms.
People in Uganda have taken this law with all the required seriousness. The Shs200 may not seem like an exorbitant figure, but the government figures to make about $100 million since there are almost 20 million active Internet users in the nation.
“By making people pay for using these platforms, this tax will render these avenues of communication inaccessible for low-income earners, robbing many people of their right to freedom of expression, with a chilling effect on other human rights,” said Joan Nyanyuki.
How to avoid Uganda social media tax with a VPN
- Choose a VPN service provider with robust encryption and servers outside Uganda.
- Go to that VPN website.
- Register for the service, providing your email address, billing information and other bits of data that the platform may ask.
- Create a username and a password.
- Download and install the VPN app in your device.
- Launch the VPN app.
- Log in with the username and password you created.
- Connect to a VPN server outside Uganda.
- Open your social media accounts and enjoy them without having to pay anything, as it is intended.
Best VPN to avoid Uganda social media tax
TorGuard is by far the most reliable option to avoid Uganda’s social media tax because it implements the strongest encryption in the market. It is trustworthy and secure, with no IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks, and it has more than 3,000 servers in 55 nations. It allows five simultaneous and it has the industry’s top customer service, all for $10 per month.
In conclusion, Uganda’s social media tax is absolutely unfair and the citizens ought to do what they feel is correct. If they want to avoid paying the bills, there are measures they can use to achieve their goal.
The most effective measure to avoid having to pay taxes to use WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and Snapchat, among others, is hiring the services of a trustworthy VPN provider.
The market is full of reliable options, but if you really want to lock up your content to have no one looking at it, you should implement TorGuard.