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Ethiopian Government Denies Banning Skype 42

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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  • 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.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"