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Author Topic: Uganda Bans VPNs To Prevent Users From Dodging Its Absurd New Social Media Tax  (Read 128 times)
Hydrogen
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July 07, 2018, 12:01:00 AM
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 #1

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Countries around the world continue to wage their not so subtle war on the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and encryption. In Russia, the government has all but banned the use of VPNs by layering all manner of obnoxious restrictions and caveats on VPN operators. The goal, as we've seen in China and countless other countries, is to ban VPN use without making it explicitly clear you're banning VPN use. The deeper goal is always the same: less privacy and online freedom for users who use such tools to dodge surveillance or other, even dumber government policies.

Case in point: Uganda recently decided it would be a great idea to impose a new 200 Uganda shilling ($0.05) tax on the use of social networking websites. President Yoweri Museveni pushed for the changes to combat what he calls "gossip," and now users have to pay the 200 shilling fee each day just to access websites and services like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter. $20 more per year is not an insubstantial sum in a country where the average income is around $600, and the average Ugandan survives on usually less than a dollar per day.

The tax is, not surprisingly, not being received well:



The nation's wireless carriers were quick to comply, informing users they should use mobile payment services to pay the government tax:



Shockingly, VPN use has soared in the country as users try to dodge the new tax. Predicting this, Uganda's government has doubled down on bad ideas, and has been pressuring ISPs to ban VPN use. In a statement posted at Facebook (200 Uganda shillings, please), the Ugandan government tries to deter VPN use by trying to claim using VPNs will cost more than the cost of bandwidth and the social media tax, since VPN encryption utilizes slightly more bandwidth and most user connections have caps and overage fees:

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"...if you think it is cheaper to use VPN than paying Shs 200/day, I think it is very unwise to think that because the data consumption under VPN is very high, I think you’re aware of that. 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."

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180702/12431840157/uganda-bans-vpns-to-prevent-users-dodging-absurd-new-social-media-tax.shtml

Interesting story developing here.

Uganda is attempting to tax its people for using social media platforms like facebook or twitter. Ugandans are using VPN's to avoid the tax. The ugandan government is pressuring ISPs to crackdown on VPNs and other things utilized by ugandans to enable tax evasion.

This raises many questions. Is it valid economic policy for a state like uganda to tax its people for using services like facebook or twitter which the ugandan government does not provide? How effective / ineffective is taxation policy, not only in uganda but around the world?

There could be certain parallels between uganda's gov pursuing tax hikes, which have a negative effect upon economics and job markets, whereby politicians in every country around the world are blindly following similar lines of thought.

At what point do taxes cease being a benefit to society and instead become the opposite?

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July 07, 2018, 12:38:45 AM
 #2

Thats totally crazy enable them to collect more tax they implemented taxation for social media users.Then because of it the people of Uganda uses VPN because having more tax is already a burden but still the government wants to ban or banned already VPN network.I think the government isnt up to citizens security and privacy but they only wanted to corrupt more.Here in my country VPN is also famous because it is less expensive than using a regular load or paying internet connections.I am a VPN user long time ago when I havent joined yet in this organization but now I am no longer using VPN because its not allowed here.Using VPN is more convenient because here in my country the internet is very expensive and yet so slow.Thats why I feel sorry to those people of Uganda that just wanna save money but because of corrupt government they are force to pay tax for using social media.
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July 07, 2018, 10:42:13 AM
 #3

I really don't understand why people are turning to VPNs.
If that picture is right, the monthly cost for access is 6000 Ushs , that's 1.5$, there is no way you're getting a real VPN for that money, more like an add invested piece of ...
And since I doubt they are using BTC to pay for it, how do they even pay for VPNs is a country with almost no credit cards? This is pretty weird.


A tax like that has led to massive protests in Hungary and the project was abandoned.
I'm not aware of anything like that happening in Uganda, more like a dozen students protesting at most, as angry tweeting is equal to 0.

They've voted this moron five times to lead the country, now deal with it.

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July 07, 2018, 11:22:05 AM
 #4

I don`t know who is the Uganda dictator (or maybe it`s a democratic government),but this is a pretty interesting idea.I really hate social media,but I have to use it,because everyone else is using it,it just wastes
my time and I don`t get any sufficient benefit from it.What if social media isn`t free anymore?This might improve the quality of content posted on social media platform.Who knows?

LeGaulois
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July 07, 2018, 03:30:36 PM
 #5

This is one of the most ridiculous taxes I have ever seen, I am not even the reason. Soon we will see a country charging taxes depending on the numbers of clouds in the sky. This said the citizens can easily bypass the costs. They can use social network application such as Hootsuite, they can install a Wordpress blog and add a social network plugin (basically they will have their wall/feed in the admin area) They can buy a cheap $2 VPS from LowEndTalk then install OpenVPN on it. You can connect two users with it so it's like 1$ per person.

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July 07, 2018, 03:59:41 PM
 #6

I really don't understand why people are turning to VPNs.
If that picture is right, the monthly cost for access is 6000 Ushs , that's 1.5$, there is no way you're getting a real VPN for that money, more like an add invested piece of ...

this is indeed a pretty weird amount of tax their government is asking for. i mean it is too low you should ask why bother?!
but the reason people are moving towards VPNs may not just be the price they have to pay but instead it may be to protect their privacy instead. i mean nobody wants the government snooping around in their private affairs even if they aren't doing anything!

and VPNs aren't really that expensive either. a good one which also has SSH is worth $8.2 per month and if you buy a yearly subscription of it, price will fall to $5.2 or 0.0096BTC for a whole year... (good thing about having SSH is that packet sniffing won't work so they can't block it Wink)

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July 07, 2018, 05:20:27 PM
 #7

It may seem ridiculous, but it's the government we're talking about, they are kings when it comes to legal extortion, so in that regard I'm not that surprised at all. I live in Europe, which is quite a friendly and civilized continent to live in, and we have had certain tax proposals that were just as ridiculous, but they luckily weren't accepted.

If people continue to abide by the law of their government and show no will to move away from that toxic roadmap, then prepare for worse in the forthcoming years. The underlying problem of everything is the mass licking to government's ass, and as long as that continues, they are basically working towards their own end.

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July 07, 2018, 05:33:29 PM
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They've voted this moron five times to lead the country, now deal with it.
Not for nothing, but sometimes it's hard to tell exactly what a leader is going to do once they get elected.  That's true everywhere.  They have a right to complain about this, regardless of whether they elected him.  It seems like a ridiculous tax based on trying to eliminate "gossip".  How free were those elections anyway? <note:  I'm ignorant about governments in general, not being into politics>

As an aside, I just mentioned giving Hydrogen merits for posting articles like these along with his commentary.  Though the article isn't his, it's valuable to people like me who don't seek out crypto news (or news in general).  This is kind of like a filter for what's important and/or interesting.
<snip>
That was very informative to a relatively politics-ignorant person like me.  I owe you a merit for it and will give you one if and when I get any more sMerits.

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July 07, 2018, 07:12:10 PM
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They've voted this moron five times to lead the country, now deal with it.
Not for nothing, but sometimes it's hard to tell exactly what a leader is going to do once they get elected.  That's true everywhere.  They have a right to complain about this, regardless of whether they elected him.  It seems like a ridiculous tax based on trying to eliminate "gossip".  How free were those elections anyway? <note:  I'm ignorant about governments in general, not being into politics>

My cousin served in the peacekeeping operations there (central Africa not Uganda)  and when he was away from home my uncle always pestered me on searching for material about how life is there so I ended up researching more on Africa than Eastern Europe:D

Everyone comes to power just like in the Simpsons parody.
They are often guerilla warriors, fighting for a "better" country, promising the people money and escape from poverty.
Of course with no real plans on how to do that and unfortunately in most cases without the intention of really doing it.

Time passes, they manage to get a lot of supporters by giving them jobs in the government, they control the media, and they secure at last 10-20% of the total votes. Most of the rest are disappointed by the results of the "revolution" and don't take part in the election while the opposition is fragmented by their own "vision" on how to do that.
So they end up with a leader voted only by 20-30% of the population.

This is happening in Europe also, disappointing results of your previous choice is making you stay at home on the voting day and you end up with an even worse leader.

But just how the Warsaw Pact is a thing of the past and things have changed, it could happen to Uganda or Rwanda or Cameroon.

....but I feel like I'm going off-topic here.   Undecided

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July 07, 2018, 07:42:43 PM
 #10

While I'd love to say that I'm surprised by a third world corruption-riddled nation doing such a thing, I'd be lying if I was to say I'm surprised. Of course, this corrupted country is going to start taxing anything under the sun, that's the first sign of a government which is going out of control.

Makes no sense, hopefully, the people of Uganda can cause enough issues and protests that the government will rethink the decision. But until then, countries should start disavowing them. Maybe even some of the big tech companies will leave the country and cripple the government completely, I guess we'll see.

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July 07, 2018, 09:35:53 PM
 #11

That is just the way some governments think, they are charging people for something they do not even provide and that has no direct harmful effects to people like alcohol and cigars do, this is why we need bitcoin and similar technologies, governments are too big and too strong and the only thing they want is to become even bigger and stronger and a limit needs to be put in place and since they are not going to self regulate themselves society will have to do it for them with the use of new technologies.
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July 07, 2018, 11:14:01 PM
 #12

Uganda is attempting to tax its people for using social media platforms like facebook or twitter. Ugandans are using VPN's to avoid the tax. The ugandan government is pressuring ISPs to crackdown on VPNs and other things utilized by ugandans to enable tax evasion.

It seems the government of this country is going mad. In my opinion, the free access to the world social networks which are well moderated is a normal right of any human.


This raises many questions. Is it valid economic policy for a state like uganda to tax its people for using services like facebook or twitter which the ugandan government does not provide? How effective / ineffective is taxation policy, not only in uganda but around the world?

I guess the visit count will be drastically decreased, so the advertising on these sites will be less profitable.


At what point do taxes cease being a benefit to society and instead become the opposite?

I don't see any benefit to society of this country. It looks like the government wants to make money from an air. If the VPN tunnels are banned, people will use the traffic obfuscation.

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July 07, 2018, 11:17:48 PM
 #13

That is just the way some governments think, they are charging people for something they do not even provide and that has no direct harmful effects to people like alcohol and cigars do, this is why we need bitcoin and similar technologies, governments are too big and too strong and the only thing they want is to become even bigger and stronger and a limit needs to be put in place and since they are not going to self regulate themselves society will have to do it for them with the use of new technologies.

Empirical evidence shows that nothing has changed throughout the last decades, which is the sad reality. Even worse is the fact that the far majority of the people there won't ever have an opportunity to leave that country and start a peaceful and productive life elsewhere. They have no other option than to abide by whatever is thrown at them. People in first world countries don't realize how much their freedom is worth, and still they keep complaining about how bad their life is. Nothing comes even close to what people in countries as Venezuela have to endure. Without Bitcoin the situation there would be way worse....
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July 08, 2018, 01:23:16 PM
 #14

Uganda is really taking the forefront of this especially in Africa as while others are considering it, Uganda is implementing it but this implementation is from the aggressive point of view. Asking people to pay tax for visiting social media, is a form of stifling their independence and freedom because the more they can't visit due to the amount of money they have to pay, they are shut out from seeing things going on across the world.

I think this is more of freedom stifling than economic point of view because if its mainly economic, there are sure several ways of going about it than trying to clamp down peoples voices which happen on most social media. Its not to support fake news spread across social media but there are also better ways to curb that too. I hope the freedom activist can challenge this form of aggressive approach to silence the people.
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July 08, 2018, 01:33:36 PM
 #15

People need to wake up and stop letting the government control our lives. If we wait too long, we will wake up one day and it will already be too late to do anything about it.

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July 08, 2018, 01:54:20 PM
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Quote
Countries around the world continue to wage their not so subtle war on the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and encryption. In Russia, the government has all but banned the use of VPNs by layering all manner of obnoxious restrictions and caveats on VPN operators. The goal, as we've seen in China and countless other countries, is to ban VPN use without making it explicitly clear you're banning VPN use. The deeper goal is always the same: less privacy and online freedom for users who use such tools to dodge surveillance or other, even dumber government policies.

Case in point: Uganda recently decided it would be a great idea to impose a new 200 Uganda shilling ($0.05) tax on the use of social networking websites. President Yoweri Museveni pushed for the changes to combat what he calls "gossip," and now users have to pay the 200 shilling fee each day just to access websites and services like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter. $20 more per year is not an insubstantial sum in a country where the average income is around $600, and the average Ugandan survives on usually less than a dollar per day.

The tax is, not surprisingly, not being received well:



The nation's wireless carriers were quick to comply, informing users they should use mobile payment services to pay the government tax:



Shockingly, VPN use has soared in the country as users try to dodge the new tax. Predicting this, Uganda's government has doubled down on bad ideas, and has been pressuring ISPs to ban VPN use. In a statement posted at Facebook (200 Uganda shillings, please), the Ugandan government tries to deter VPN use by trying to claim using VPNs will cost more than the cost of bandwidth and the social media tax, since VPN encryption utilizes slightly more bandwidth and most user connections have caps and overage fees:

Quote
"...if you think it is cheaper to use VPN than paying Shs 200/day, I think it is very unwise to think that because the data consumption under VPN is very high, I think you’re aware of that. 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."

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180702/12431840157/uganda-bans-vpns-to-prevent-users-dodging-absurd-new-social-media-tax.shtml

Interesting story developing here.

Uganda is attempting to tax its people for using social media platforms like facebook or twitter. Ugandans are using VPN's to avoid the tax. The ugandan government is pressuring ISPs to crackdown on VPNs and other things utilized by ugandans to enable tax evasion.

This raises many questions. Is it valid economic policy for a state like uganda to tax its people for using services like facebook or twitter which the ugandan government does not provide? How effective / ineffective is taxation policy, not only in uganda but around the world?

There could be certain parallels between uganda's gov pursuing tax hikes, which have a negative effect upon economics and job markets, whereby politicians in every country around the world are blindly following similar lines of thought.

At what point do taxes cease being a benefit to society and instead become the opposite?

Indeed a very interesting story you got there, though Uganda does not have the luxury to tax the earnings through cryptocurrency  which in threir country it is just like a tax evasion process to use VPNs as connection to their transactions.

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July 08, 2018, 04:55:38 PM
 #17

This is crazily ridiculous of the tyranny government of Musuveni. He is been in power for decades and maybe the people might just revolt in the country. They are proposing a bill to increasing data plan in Nigeria so as to ensure the social media becomes unattractive to the jobless youth. Something need to be done by the technological world to beating this odd of the government against her people. 
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July 08, 2018, 10:12:32 PM
 #18

The tax itself makes absolutely no sense.

They are essentially taxing people to access something that isn't even theirs to begin with. And if you ask anyone else around the globe about how they feel about Uganda's tax on social media websites, you'll find that most responses will be 'absurd' or the like.

As the article says, $20 a year might not be significant to us, but it's literally 3% of the average Ugandan income.

The tax scheme just doesn't make sense and the government is trying their best to enforce it. A complete waste of time and energy, and it's essentially an attempt to censor the entire internet in their country by the process of doing this.

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July 08, 2018, 10:25:21 PM
 #19

This raises many questions. Is it valid economic policy for a state like uganda to tax its people for using services like facebook or twitter which the ugandan government does not provide? How effective / ineffective is taxation policy, not only in uganda but around the world?

The overwhelming majority of taxed items certainly aren't provided by governments. This particular tax though is pretty mind blowing as they're globally 'free' resources, though of course we're their products.

Has there been any statements from the companies themselves? If I was Facebook I'd pay the nation's tax with a cheque that bounced. And of course a ton of business is generated through platforms like this. The government will be worse off because of it, let alone their population.

VPNs need their own Bitcoin esque moment where they're enabled to become forever beyond the reach of any meddling. I've no idea how that would be achieved. Tor is far too agonising to use.


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July 08, 2018, 11:23:58 PM
 #20

Russian government is trying to pull off the same thing with Telegram. They wanted to just ban the messenger, but when it turned out to be impossible they swithched to banning VPN services, however that is also futile for them and I am really glad that technology is still ahead of greedy politicians.

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