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Protests Erupt in Lebanon Over Tax Proposal on Free WhatsApp Calls: Report

Many were also concerned that it was not only designed to boost tax revenue, but also a way to monitor communications and restrict freedom of speech and protests," the report mentioned

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Protests erupted in Lebanon over plans for the introduction of a tax on calls made over the Internet using the WhatsApp messenger and similar apps.

Lebanon’s cabinet decided to impose a fee on voice/video calls made on WhatsApp and other apps to raise revenues as demonstrators and police clashed on Thursday against the move, according to Arab News.

The government later backed down from the plan to levy 20 cent per day tax on WhatsApp calls as people vented their anger in the second nation-wide protests in less than a month.

Information Minister Jamal al-Jarrah on Thursday said the cabinet had agreed a charge of 20 cents per day for calls via voice over internet protocol (VoIP), used by applications that include FaceTime, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

“We are poor people. Why are they preying upon us? We had free WhatsApp calls — why do they want us to pay the internet bill twice?” One person was quoted as saying.

whatsapp, paytm, UPI-based Pay service
FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

“The fee could potentially bring in up to $250 million in annual revenues from the country’s estimated 3.5 million VoIP users,” the report said.

The tax proposal met with anger, especially among young people and those from low-income groups.

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Protesters packed roads from Riad Al-Solh Square in central Beirut all the way to Martyrs Square, chanting “Revolution” and “The people want to take down the regime.”

“Many were also concerned that it was not only designed to boost tax revenue, but also a way to monitor communications and restrict freedom of speech and protests,” the report mentioned. (IANS)

Next Story

Messaging App Signal Prepares To Take on WhatsApp, Goes Mainstream

This comes at a time when Facebook-owned WhatsApp users are looking for alternatives as the messaging platform has been hit by spyware and other privacy-related controversies

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This comes at a time when Facebook-owned WhatsApp users are looking for alternatives as the messaging platform has been hit by spyware and other privacy-related controversies. Pixabay

Privacy centric messaging app Signal is gearing up to take on Facebook-owned WhatsApp as it is mulling to go mainstream now and put the $50 million infusion from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton to good use. Moxie Marlinspike — who launched Signal — has always talked about making encrypted communications easy enough for anyone to use.

The difference, today, is that Signal is finally reaching that mass audience it was always been intended for — not just the privacy diehards, activists, and cybersecurity nerds that formed its core user base for years, thanks in part to a concerted effort to make the app more accessible and appealing to the mainstream, the Wired recently reported.

This comes at a time when Facebook-owned WhatsApp users are looking for alternatives as the messaging platform has been hit by spyware and other privacy-related controversies.

“The major transition Signal has undergone is from a three-person small effort to something that is now a serious project with the capacity to do what is required to build software in the world today,” Marlinspike was quoted as saying by the Wired.

WhatsApp
Privacy centric messaging app Signal is gearing up to take on Facebook-owned WhatsApp as it is mulling to go mainstream now and put the $50 million infusion from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton to good use. Pixabay

The investment by the WhatsApp co-founder Acton has enabled the team to add features that also attract regular folks looking for an alternative to WhatsApp and Telegram.

Since Signal is fundamentally end-to-end encrypted and doesn’t store conversation metadata on its servers, like when who texted whom, the developers were faced with additional obstacles on that path. The foundation had to make stickers compatible with encryption so users can send them securely and anonymously.

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Enabling group administration was also a hard feat, as Signal has to give administrators the ability to add and remove members without its servers knowing who’s part of the conversation, according to Android Police. (IANS)