Last month on 24 May, Ethiopian government has passed a new law. According to Al Jazeera report, the new legislation of Ethiopian government has criminalized the use of all Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services like Skype, Google Talk. If anyone gets caught using VoIP services will be punished for up to 15 years in prison!
Ethiopian has 84 million citizens and of them, 700,000 people use internet (based on 2010 data) having the average Internet speed of 622 kbps. Ethio Telecom is the only Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Ethiopia. The legislation was voted into law last month with little notice from international media. The Ethiopian authorities mentioned that they imposed these bans because of “national security concerns” and to protect the state’s telecommunications monopoly.
In fact, the new legislation empowers the state-owned telecom to prohibit the use not only of VoIP services, but also of video chatting, social media, e-mail, and any other data transfer service capable of communicating information. But that’s not the end. Reporters Without Borders earlier reported that Ethio Telecom installed a system – Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), an advanced network filtering method, to block access to the Tor network, which allows users to surf the Web anonymously.
According to The Africa Review, anyone in the country who uses an illegal phone service will face up to 15 years in jail with big amount of fines. Making a phone call over the Internet is punishable by 3 to 8 years in prison plus fines. It’s not clear how exactly the government plans to enforce this restriction.