Skype Banned In Ethiopia, Internet Filters Activated

The Ethiopian government has passed new legislation that criminalises the use of Internet-based voice communications such as Skype and other forms of Internet phone calling.

Authorities have also installed a new filtering system that monitors the use of the Internet in the tightly-controlled Horn of Africa country in a move seen as targeting dissidents.

The telecoms law strictly prohibits VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) which includes audio and video related social media communication, and the transfer of information packages through the fast growing global cyber networks.

It also authorises the government to inspect any imports of voice communication equipment and accessories, while also banning inbound shipments without prior permission.

Anyone involved in “illegal” phone calling services will be prosecuted and could be jailed for up to 15 years or fined heavily if found guilty.Making an Internet phone call through different software is punishable by three to eight years– automatically criminalising Skype and other similar voice services.The government in the law’s introductory annex defends such legislation as a timely and appropriate response to the ever increasing security threats globally and in Ethiopia.

But observers say the law is aimed at further limiting freedom of expression and the flow of information in the nation of 85 million people.

In the last five years websites and blogs critical of the government have been frequently blocked and all Amharic language broadcasts targeting Ethiopia jammed.

Source – AfricaReview

 

Updated: 29.06.2012 by Tech Mistress

Isn’t jailing someone for skyping like using a mallet to kill a spider? Countries like China, Vietnam, Tajikistan, India and Iran have been on the offensive regarding Internet freedom with communist China leading the pack. It is coming closer to home as countries like Uganda and Ethiopia are toughening the internet rules.

Ethiopia has criminalized the use of VOIP services claiming national security and to help boost profit margin of the sole state owned Ethio Teleco. With Ethiopia’s booming economy, it still has an internet penetration of 0.5% which is the 2nd lowest in Africa and unfortunately the country has the second most expensive fixed broadband services. Ethiopia has been blocking blogs, news sites and opposition sites.

Ethio Teleco has installed Deep Packet inspection (DPI), an advance network filtering method to block access to Tor network which allows users browse anonymously and access blocked websites. Is Ethiopia undermining the importance of the internet in this age of globalization?

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