It is not yet over for social media users who have since the effecting of the “Over The TOP (OTT)” tax on Sunday July 1 been mobilizing friends and relatives to install Virtual Private Networks (VPN) on their mobile phones in order to bypass local networks so as to evade the new tax.
Government through the communications regulator, UCC has now moved to tighten the loose ends by blocking these VPNs.
According to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director, Eng Godfrey Mutabazi, government has the necessary software and equipment to reign on to individuals who harbour intentions of evading payment of the highly contested tax.
“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,” Eng Mutabazi said.
“We have all the systems needed to block the Virtual Private Networks already here and the government will move anytime to effect it,” he added.
Virtual Private Network, (VPN) is a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet.
The UCC boss further mentioned that in situations where some individuals have circumvented the system, they will be subjected to the same taxes, with possible surcharges to access the OTT services.
Ugandans are obliged to pay Shs 200 everyday before accessing their social media networks but several Ugandans have portrayed their displeasure over OTT tax which they describe as being “unfair”.
Meanwhile, a group of concerned Ugandans have already petitioned the constitutional court to rule that the tax is unconstitutional and stops government from levying it.
As controversy over the unpopular tax continues to deepen, only time will tell whether UCC will indeed successfully block usage of VPNs.