Ugandan civic groups file suit challenging social media tax

Ugandan civic groups on Tuesday filed a suit challenging the introduction of new tax on social media.

Ugandans pay 200 shillings (0.0517 dollars) per day to access Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Skype and other phone apps under the tax introduced on Sunday.

The government says the revenue will help fund energy, transport and other projects.

The tax is unconstitutional, according to
Daniel Bill Opio, a lawyer who filed the petition with the Kampala-based Cyber Law Initiative non-profit and others.

“Youths are taking on initiatives toward innovation and technology mostly using these … platforms,” he said. “Once you introduce a tax … you are actually killing this budding entrepreneurship.”

Amnesty International called on the government on Monday to scrap the tax and said it was an attempt to smother dissent disguised as a measure to raise revenue.

Others have denounced the tax on Twitter using the hashtag #ThisTaxMustGo.

Also, opposition parties and other critics say President Yoweri Museveni’s government imposes onerous taxes to fund wasteful spending while failing to stem corruption.

Facebook and South Africa’s MTN both declined to comment on the tax. A spokesman for Google did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The court received the petition on Monday and no hearing date has been set, said judiciary spokesman Solomon Muyita.

Uganda’s courts are clogged and a suit can take years before a verdict.




REUTERS

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