Lebanon, a country in the Middle East characterized by tremendous political instability, approved on Thursday a measure that has put its citizens on a war footing. The new tax created aims to tax the use of WhatsApp calls and any other application that uses VoIP. The Government has especially addressed the Facebook application as it is the most used in the country.
This controversial measure revives the old ghost of the application: pay to use it. And it is doubly controversial: first, because it intends to charge users for the use they already pay with the bill to their Internet provider; second, because WhatsApp clearly specifies in its terms of service that no one can charge or rent their services without express authorization.
Lebanon will increase revenue by charging $ 0.20 for each first daily call of WhatsApp and other VoIP applications.
As we said, the new collection measure was approved yesterday Thursday in Beirut, as reflected in the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar. It is a measure that seeks to increase state coffers by taking advantage of the majority use of applications such as WhatsApp. It is not yet clear how the government will be able to register the use made of the applications since this should be private. Experts consulted by the newspaper theorize about the option of separating WhatsApp data traffic from the rest of the rate: this would be feasible for the operators since they control the use that each user makes of the contracted date. At least as long as they don’t use a VPN.
With a daily cost of $ 0.20 for each user who makes a VoIP call, the State would pocket an average of six dollars a month per citizen or use of such communications. It is a much higher cost than WhatsApp itself charged years ago: $ 0.99 per year (or $ 0.89).
The tax just approved by the Lebanese government goes against the rules of use of all VoIP services. According to WhatsApp conditions :
«You must not»… «sell, resell, rent or charge for our Services in an unauthorized manner»
Lebanon intends to start charging WhatsApp and other VoIP applications from January 2020.