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This article was published on July 3, 2018

    Definitely don’t use these VPNs to avoid Uganda’s social media tax

    Definitely don’t use these VPNs to avoid Uganda’s social media tax
    Callum Booth
    Story by

    Callum Booth

    Editor of Plugged by TNW

    Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

    In case you hadn’t heard, Uganda has a social media tax. From the 1st July, citizens of the East African country have had to pay 200 Ugandan Shillings (roughly $0.05) every single day to access social networks, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

    As you can imagine, people are really, really, really happy about this.

    And those were some of the less aggressive tweets.

    The thing is, while 200 Ugandan Shillings doesn’t sound like a huge amount from a Western perspective, this tax effectively takes away the poor’s ability to communicate. There are also more politically leaning criticisms of the move:

    Overall though, people just don’t want to pay for something they had for free until very recently. And, in those situations, never count out the resourcefulness of humanity. And VPNs. Don’t forget VPNs.

    According to BestVPN.com – a VPN comparison site – the number of Ugandan visitors to its service rose 1567 percent between Saturday and Sunday when the law went live. Also, it appears that Ugandans have been increasingly searching Google for VPNs too.

    A minor blip.

    This interest in escaping the Social Media Tax by using VPNs hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Ugandan Government though.

    Now look, I’m not here to go over the minutiae of the most cost-effective way to access social media in Uganda. I’m here to drop some names of VPNs that, if you happen to be in Uganda you should definitely, 100%, totally not use to visit social media sites without paying taxes.

    • VPNHubThis is Pornhub’s VPN and we covered its launch back in May. It also has a free service.
    • NordVPNOne of the biggest names in the VPN world, NordVPN isn’t free, but has a short trial period, so you can try before you buy.
    • HotSpot ShieldWe recently wrote about a study that named HotSpot Shield as the top VPN on the market. Bear in mind this study was commissioned by Anchorfree – the company who owns HotSpot Shield – so take it with a pinch of salt. Bear in mind too, that it has been called out for collecting data in the past. It has a free version though, so do as you will.
    • ExpressVPN: This is the service that tops TheBestVPN.com‘s list of the, uh, best VPNs. (This is not to be confused with the aforementioned BestVPN.com)
    • CyberGhost: Another service that scores highly across comparison websites, CyberGhost also has a free version.

    There you have it, Uganda. A selection of VPNs you can use that, uh, will totally have no impact on your ability to get round the social media tax.