The Ethiopian government has just made it a criminal offense to use VoIP services within the country such as Skype and Google Talk. Anyone caught using VoIP service can now spend 15 years in prison. Ethiopia passed the new law last month, and it’s only just now becoming known outside of the country.
The Ethiopian government argues that the bans on VoIP services are because of “national security concerns.” Ethiopia currently has a single telecommunications carrier, which is state owned, and called Ethio telecom. This ban of VoIP services also happens to help protect the state’s monopoly on communication services.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology also gained “the power to supervise and issue licenses to all privately owned companies that import equipment used for communication and information.” Ethiopia’s ban also extends to social networking with people not be able to make audio and video communications. Ethio Telecom is also said to be blocking access to the Tor network, which allows people to surf the web anonymously.