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15 Years in Jail for Using Skype? Censorship in Ethiopia Worsens

The Ethiopian government has instituted a law that bans the use of Voice Over Internet Protocol services just as Skype or Google Talk.

The East African country’s government has as well just installed a block on the Tor network, a service that allows users to browse the Internet anonymously.

Very strict control over written press

“There’s already a very strict control over written press, and last year several journalists were arrested, and now the government is tackling communications over the internet.

“More and more people in Ethiopia are turning to new technologies, and some are even able to bypass censorship, which explains why the government is trying to use effective methods to control internet communications.”

Internet restrictions are not new in Ethiopia, with the government having a history of censoring opposition forces. But, this move to legislate overtly hostile restrictions is relatively recent, indicating that the government is now willing to move unilaterally in order to protect the monopoly on information exchange that it holds.

The two commonly cited explanations for the law are “national security” and to protect the Ethiopian government’s state-owned telecommunications service. Ethio Telecom is a monopoly, and much-despised for its expensive calling rates, especially internationally. Skype and Google Voice provide cheaper, or often free, ways to place calls. Ethiopia’s Internet penetration rate is the second-lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa, however the country’s economy is booming, its cities expanding, and its middle class growing.

Human rights groups are concerned that this kind of overt and robust censorship through the vein of state media may as a matter of fact later conceal larger human rights abuses and lead to wider business corruption issues.

Read more: censorship, east-africa, ethiopia, government control, internet censorship, press control, SKYPE, state media

Good and Bad of censorship. Ethiopia is a very poor country where education is limited and children and adult can be victim. Having internet is a luxury and blessing for Ethiopia citizens unlike other country is common. Good prevents 1. children and teens being a victim of crime from predators 2. Luring innocent children's into life of crime from street sweet talker/ gang leader using Google talk, Facebook, Twitter, Skype Bad 1. Limited reporting from journalist about scandals, bribery, etc. Nothing is perfect.

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