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Ethiopian Government Denies Banning Skype 42

Posted by timothy
from the those-greedy-capitalists dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last week, we read that Ethiopia banned using VoIP. According to the head of Communication Affairs the draft bill aims to discourage illegal use of internet telephony, not any VoIP calls made PC-to-PC or PC-to-phone. He also indicated that the draft bill prevents illegal use of internet phone as some people are making international calls with domestic charge." The distinctions here seem finer than I'd like (“We have not adopted a legislation that prevents people from using internet."), since what's legal seems unduly arbitrary, and since the draconian punishment proposed still stands: "According to the draft bill, anyone who uses internet phone illegally is punishable by up to 15 years in prison."
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Ethiopian Government Denies Banning Skype

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  • ... How will people call out for food?
    • They'll use the state owned telephone service. And presumably, they'll pay handsomely for the privilege.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      ... How will people call out for food?

      They can't. Sally Struthers has been asking me to send them food for a long time now. At least I have an explanation now.

      Marklar.

    • "According to the head of Communication Affairs the draft bill aims to discourage illegal use of internet telephony, not any VoIP calls made PC-to-PC or PC-to-phone. He also indicated that the draft bill prevents illegal use of internet phone as some people are making international calls with domestic charge." "According to the draft bill, anyone who uses internet phone illegally is punishable by up to 15 years in prison."

      Lucky for him, most of our SlashdotTV editors are located in Ethiopia.

      Can you guys arrange for a video-Skype interview?

    • by Cito (1725214)

      click click clack click clack click click click click clack click clack click click "click click clack click" clack click click

      google translate

      how do you think we import all these flies to put on our children's faces for your late night "feed a starving african" tv infomercials?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So basically it's about the age old twins of control and money.

  • It might work more reliably if it routed all calls through a central server located somewhere within India.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @03:13AM (#40427093) Journal

    He also indicated that the draft bill prevents illegal use of internet phone

    By what means will they prevent "illegal use of internet phone"? By making it illegal?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      He also indicated that the draft bill prevents illegal use of internet phone

      By what means will they prevent "illegal use of internet phone"? By making it illegal?

      Logically making something illegal causes its illegal use, not prevents it. If we had no laws we would have no crime!

  • by Sussurros (2457406) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @03:27AM (#40427137)
    I wouldn't underestimate the Etioipians - some of them are better educated and more sophisticated than anyone I've ever met. Others are Africans with European tastes (along the Italian model) much like most of the people I meet - they have their own cycling federation for example.

    Most however are only educated in doing what it takes to survive in a moderately tough place.

    Onto those however you need to overlay one third of every bit of gasoline that powers your country and mine passing past its coastline and add an overly virulent strain of Islam - important because a Christian Ethiopian king saved the Prophet because of the story of Christmas fifteen hundred years ago.

    Add all these things together and you get a fulcrum without a lever. Any fool can make a lever.

    Having a fulcrum - that's the trick. With a fulcrum you can change the world just as the Founding Fathers did.
    • VoIP is at least as important as good roads. I can't of my medical work in Africa without a reliable inexpensive communication system. Shype is great (for now, until M$ creates a Vista version....) Ethiopia could become (or...could have become... the regional economic power. The universities are excellent. The streets are clean. People are hard working and well organized. Even the rural peasants speak English (a legacy from Jah). However, there is holdover from the former socialist system coupled wi
  • Just about every country has some law that says similar, using the internet or telephones for ill eagle activities is against the law, usually directed at gambling, making threats, blackmail, porn, etc.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      I like eagles too, but do they really need to have laws to prevent making them ill?

  • Might it have anything to do with terrorists communicating in ways that can't be tapped? Same kind of catch-all as Federal 'wire fraud' in the USA? Not intended as a problem for the innocent.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:36AM (#40427789)

    I used to live in Ethiopia, so I know something about this. The government has a monopoly on both landline and wireless service. The quality of the service is pretty crappy -- for example, they only got GPRS about four years ago, which puts them about five years behind most of Africa. It's partly about control -- for example, after the election results were protested in the Fall of 2005, and the protesters successfully organized using SMS, they simply turned off outgoing SMS for the whole country for about two years. It may also be about money. Local calls are relatively cheap, but international calls are at 1990s prices, and calling cards, etc., are banned. So there are these internet-cafe-like stores in the cities -- you'll find them in back allies off the main roads -- that offer international IP-based calling services for something more like Skype prices. They are wildly popular, but the government cracks down on them all the time, so they're constantly moving. This bill is probably just trying to up the penalty for running such places. I doubt they want to run around and chase after individual Skype users calling from home or the local internet cafe -- it's just not worth their time and effort. People don't really have rights in Ethiopia, but unless you're doing something public, the government generally won't go after you you.

  • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @08:03AM (#40428093) Homepage

    And I should know, I wrote it. Chapter 9 (Media) goes into extensive detail on how to clamp down on the media, route communications through state systems through which you can monitor and track. Chapter 10 (International Community) goes into how to do one thing while stating the other; how to befuddle the donors and international oversight committees, and so on.

    The point is, what Ethiopia is doing, and Eritrea too by the way, is nothing new. Nor is it specific to Africa. Belarus, Iran, China, Thailand, and a lot of other countries are capitalizing on state infrastructure to control communications. Have a look at http://dictatorshandbook.net/ [dictatorshandbook.net]

  • Not the only country (Score:3, Interesting)

    by canadiannomad (1745008) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @10:05AM (#40428861) Homepage

    I was surprised while traveling to find out that the english speaking commonwealth country of Belize blocks skype... Thankfully I'm adapt at using proxies, but seriously!?! I wrote letters to their tourism board, but obviously nothing will be done about it.

  • Priests deny boinking little boys.
    Microsoft denies being a monopoly.
    Michael Moore denies being a big fat hypocrite.
    Noam Chomsky denies being a self-righteous asshole.

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