Uganda’s parliament has passed a law that will allow the government impose a controversial taxe on citizens making use of social media platforms.
It imposes a 200 shilling [$0.05, £0.04] daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Twitter.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the changes, arguing that social media encouraged gossip.
Under the new law, which will be effective from July 1, affected Ugandans will be expected to pay 200 shillings ($0.05) daily, which amounts to $18 annually.
“As a government, we thought it would be good to impose taxes on some aspects of the social media,” deputy government spokesman Shaban Bantariza said on Thursday.
“Government is installing infrastructure like WiFi in areas around the country and it will not do this without our contribution through taxes.”
The new Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill will also impose various other taxes, including a 1% levy on the total value of mobile money transactions – which civil society groups complain will affect poorer Ugandans who rarely use banking services.
State Minister for Finance David Bahati told parliament that the tax increases were needed to help Uganda pay off its growing national debt.
Uganda isn’t the only country looking to limit its population’s usage of social media, though.
Papua New Guinea recently announced that the country would block access to Facebook for a month to analyze how the population is using the service.
It’s not clear why the government needs to shut down access to Facebook in order to get this data, but clearly countries are interested in limiting citizens’ use of social media.