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Skyping in Ethiopia Could Result in Stiff Jail Term

The Ethiopian government has laid down a harsh new law prohibiting the use of Skype and other VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services in the country, threatening jail terms of up to 15 years for anyone who's caught violating it. Whether the Ethiopian government will enforce the law against ordinary citizens is nevertheless an unknown.

Ethiopia has passed a draconian new law criminalizing the use of Voiceover Internet Protocol services just as Skype or Google Talk. Peoplewho violate the ban will find themselves facing 10-to-15 years inprison.The government has cited national security as a reason, even though it iswidely assumed that protecting the market share and revenue of thestate-owned telecom provider, Ethio Telecom, is as well a driver -- ifnot the main one.

Handful of nations

Ethiopia is among a handful of nations, including China and Iran, thatis deploying deep packet inspection research to spy on its citizens,noted Wisdom.

"DPI will be used to monitor enforcement of this new rule, because itcan recognize the ports and channels that are used for VoIPcommunication," he said.

In general, DPI is a helpful innovation when used properly, Wisdomadded, largely because it works then to protect corporate networksfrom intrusions.

You scratch my back I will scratch yours relationship

It's a "you scratch my back I will scratch yours" relationship, Wisdomsaid. "The current government has a vested interest in keeping themhappy, so I could see it not being too pleased by alternative andcompetitive forms of communication available in the market."

There are other methods to make low-cost phone calls without violatingthe country's new ban, , but -- anyway they are available fornow.

One is provided by the international calling service KeKu, across-platform research app that offers free calls from app to app,along with low-rate calls to landlines and mobile phones. It isactive in more than 180 countries and said to be very popular inEthiopia.

KeKu can nevertheless operate in spite of the new law because it doesn't requirean Internet connection on the caller or recipient's part, CEO ManlioCarrelli told TechNewsWorld.

"Someone in New York City could obtain a unparalleled local 718 area codenumber for each of their family members back home," he explained. "Thecustomer's phone company treats this like a local call."

More information: Technewsworld