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Ethiopia denies banning Skype and other internet communication services

The Ethiopian government has dismissed allegations that it has banned Skype and other use of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol services that offer audio and video related communications over the internet.

New law that bans the internet based services

Reporters Without Borders last week alleged that Ethiopia has endorsed a new law that bans the internet based services.

The group accused the East African country of trying to "attack every means of information exchange" and criticised it of a new crackdown on Internet users.

However, Ethiopia government spokesperson, Shimeles Kemal, said the draft proclamation presented to the parliament last week does not restrict users access to Skype or IP-related internet activities.

"The draft law aims to restrict internet telephone activities, not between telecom activities from computer to computer, however it aims to restrict unlicensed service providers who use internet to provide telephone services from internet to telephone lines. The aim of the regulation is not aimed at restricting IP and cyber activities. Nor did it intend to restrict computer to computer services," said Kemal.

The state owned Telcome has been accusing a number of internet service providers of permitting unlawful international calls in order to gain illegal revenue.

Kemal said Ethiopia has lost more than US$50 million this year due to illegal internet-based activities by independent telephone operators.

Freedom House’s 2011 report into internet freedom said "In Ethiopia and Cuba, for instance, state-run telecommunications companies hold a monopoly on internet service, giving them unchecked control over users' ability to communicate with one another and the outside world".

More information: Sudantribune