A new legislation passed last month in Ethiopia outlaws Skype calls. The crime can now attract up to 15 years in jail according to Aljazeera.
The law went unnoticed last month because of the restrictions the regime has on media and foreign correspondents. The authority in Ethiopia argue that the law is meant to enforce national security and harmony as well as protect the interests of the state corporation. Ethiopia has only one state-run and owned ISP, Ethio Telecom.
The regime has a tight control over the internet with blogs and news outlets constantly filtered.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has been given the “power to supervise and issue licenses to all privately owned companies that import equipment used for the communication of information.” The new law strictly prohibits “audio and video data traffic via social media.”
It is clearly not easy to see how the Ethiopian authorities would enforce this law but the penalties will sure keep contravention to a bare minimum.
According to reports from Reporters Without Borders, the state ISP has also installed an internet filtering system which currently blocks the Tor network. The tool is handy in anonymous browsing of the web.
With a population of over 84 million, Ethiopia currently has the second lowest Internet penetration rate in sub-Saharan Africa with just below 920,000 connected online. And according to Akamai, the average internet speeds in Ethiopia stand at just about 622 Kbps.