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A 30-second Skype call in Ethiopia could land you 15 years in prison

The country's government has passed a new law that makes it a crime to engage in audio or video communications using Voice over Internet Protocol services just as Skype, Google Talk and most other video chat platforms, according to Al Jazeera.

Anyone who makes a phone call over the Internet reportedly faces a three to eight year prison sentence and heavy fines thanks to the May 24 legislation.

The punishment for using an official Internet calling service just as Skype is even stronger, with violators facing a potential 15 years in jail, the African Review reports.

Ambroise Pierre, head of the non-profit organization's Africa Desk, said the measure is actually intended to restrict the flow of communication in and out of the country.

The state's sole telecommunications provider

Former BBC Ethiopia correspondent Elizabeth Blunt says that law may be intended to protect the state's sole telecommunications provider, Ethio Teleco.

"Internet cafes may be allowing people to make calls for far less than the cost of Ethiopia telecom, the state's telecommunications provider that has the monopoly and charges very high prices - and doesn't want to have its service undermined," Blunt told BBC.

The new legislation as well gives the government permission to inspect any imported voice communication equipment, Al Jazeera reports.

More information: Nydailynews