The Ugandan parliament referred a controversial new social media tax to a committee for further consideration on Thursday, after protesters took to the streets of Kampala last week. The tax, which went into effect July 1, charges 200 Ugandan shillings (or $0.05) per day of use for 60 mobile apps, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Critics say it puts an undue burden on the poorest members of society, and that it is an assault on freedom of expression.
“The primary motivation behind [the social media tax] is to silence speech, to reduce the spaces where people can exchange information, and to really be able to control, with the recognition that online platforms have become the more commonly used way for sharing information,” says Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes.
While Uganda’s social media tax is the first of its kind, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, it follows [...]