On Thursday Lebanese officials announced plans to tax VoIP calls in the country in hope of raising much-needed revenue to keep public services running, reports Al Jazeera. Under the plan, citizens would have been taxed 20¢ a day if they made a Facetime, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger call that day. The government had hoped to raise as much as $250 million annually from the tax. It is estimate that around 3.5 million Lebanese citizens use VoIP-enabled apps.
However, just hours after announcing the plan to tax VoIP calls, the Lebanese government backtracked and put a stop to the new tax. The backtrack on the VoIP tax was a result of increasing protests in the country over the government’s economic policy. Al Jazeera says the country has been facing stagnant economic conditions that have resulted in two nationwide protests in less than a month.
The second protest happened just as the government announce plans for the VoIP tax. However, one protester in Beirut told Al Jazeera that citizens were not protesting directly as a result of the announcement on the tax on WhatsApp and FaceTime calls. “We are not here over the WhatsApp, we are here over everything: over fuel, food, bread, over everything,” a protester named Abdullah said.