By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Ugandan citizens are now paying 20% more for their monthly internet data bill thanks to the Uganda social media tax that went into effect earlier this week. The situation is one of government greed and, perhaps more importantly, a vehicle to stifle their citizen’s right for free speech. Angered Ugandans are now turning to free VPN technology to bypass restrictions.
According to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, social media is effectively a tool used only for “lying” and “malicious” purposes. Interpreted another way: The government is suggesting that social media is a way for people to express their honest opinions and have their voices heard, and if that opinion doesn’t match the country’s political agenda, then people should not be allowed to say it. This is a classic case of censorship, something that is affecting more and more countries around the globe.
“The tax is an absolute insult to Ugandans…we already buy data which the government taxes, why should we again have to pay this money to the government to access these platforms?” Dickens Kamugisha, a Kampala-based charity worker, told reporters at Reuters.
“And in any case, these are now essential communications channels that people use to reach loved ones, communicate with friends, socialites and mobilize civically…the tax reflects the highest form of greed.”
Since announcing the Uganda social media tax—which is an increase of 200 shillings ($0.05) per day (or about 20% compared to the mobile data plan rates citizens are currently paying) for access to a range of online services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, Google Hangouts, Skype, and more—citizens have been looking for ways to bypass the restrictions.
Many of those people have been turning to free VPN technology to switch out their IP address and enable them to bypass the restrictions and fight back against the Uganda social media tax.
At Hotspot Shield VPN, we continuously advocate for free speech and believe that all citizens around the world should be able to access the internet without walls or borders. Our free Hotspot Shield VPN product is used by 600 million people in 200 countries to provide a secure connection to the internet, online privacy, and unrestricted access to the world’s information.