Economy

Ugandans opt for VPN to access social media after Museveni ban

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Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

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Summary

  • A number of Ugandans turned to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access Facebook and other social media platforms after the government ordered them shut down.
  • President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday confirmed the platforms were blocked for allegedly taking sides in today’s election in which he is hoping to extend his 35-year rule.

A number of Ugandans turned to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access Facebook and other social media platforms after the government ordered them shut down.

President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday confirmed the platforms were blocked for allegedly taking sides in today’s election in which he is hoping to extend his 35-year rule.

“I am sure government has already banned this social media [Facebook],” he said during a national address.

“If it is going to operate in Uganda, It should be used equitably. If they want to operate against the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) — that group (Facebook) will not operate in Uganda. We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide who is good or bad.”

Facebook on January 9 deleted accounts linked to the Museveni campaign, equally accusing their operators of violating itscontent dissemination policies.

Tech giants like Twitter and Facebook have elicited mixed reactions across the world after they indefinitely suspended US president Donald Trump’s account last week.

Critics have accused them of censorship on free speech.

In Uganda, Article 41 (1) of the Constitution provides for fundamental freedoms of expression and access to information.

“Blocking social media really shows that there is no democracy in Uganda. What are they trying to hide?” said internet user Micheal Oketch.

According to Uganda Revenue Authority(URA), over 17 million Ugandans subscribe to social media channels.

SOCIAL MEDIA TAX

There have been efforts in the past by the government to restrict mainstream social media like Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp by taxing the use of the platforms but that has not registered much progress.

Uganda’s tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority, says about 7.6 million people evade social media tax, commonly known as Over The Top (OTT) tax, earning government less by over USh350 billion of its target annual USh400 billion collection by the time the Bill was approved in June 2018.