Jreissati speaks with Choucair during a Cabinet session in Beirut, Oct. 17, 2019. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Hundreds of protesters cut roads across Beirut Thursday evening as anger boiled over at the prospect of new taxes and fees, including a new charge on internet-based voice calling services, aimed at closing the government's gaping budget deficit. Cabinet agreed Wednesday to charge users $0.20 per day for using internet-based calling services, including popular WhatsApp voice calls, ministers confirmed Thursday.A user making calls every day would be charged about $6 per month on top of their normal cellphone bill.With about 3.5 million people making internet-based voice calls, the Treasury could secure annual revenues of some $250 million.Najem said that imposing fees for voice calling unlawfully charges twice for the same service: once for the data used to make the call, and again for the call itself.In order to be able to impose fees on internet-based voice calling, telecom companies must employ deep packet inspection (DPI) technology, Najem said.Based upon this evidence, Najem said that SMEX now believes touch and Alfa are using DPI technology.
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