Category: "ICT"

Ethiopia clamps down on Skype and other internet use on Tor

June 15th, 2012

Ethiopia clamps down on Skype and other internet use on Tor

By Katia Moskvitch Technology reporter, BBC News

Campaigners have warned of fresh efforts by the Ethiopian government to clamp down on certain types of internet use in the country.

Reporters Without Borders says that the authorities have installed a system to block access to the Tor network - a "hidden" layer of the internet, used to allow anonymous online communications.

Users already face up to 15 years in jail if they use Skype or similar internet call services.

Addis Ababa has not provided a comment.

"The Ethiopian government is trying to attack every means of information exchange," Ambroise Pierre from the Reporters Without Borders Africa service told BBC News.

"There's already a very strict control over written press, and last year several journalists were arrested, and now the government is tackling communications over the internet.

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Ethiopian law criminalizes independent telecom use

June 15th, 2012

Ethiopian law criminalizes independent telecom use


Source: CPJ

Nairobi, June 15, 2012
--A new law in Ethiopia imposes prison sentences for offenses related to the independent use of telecommunications tools and services, according to local journalists and news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by broad and vaguely worded provisions of the law, under which journalists could be prosecuted for the methods they use to circumvent government surveillance and censorship.

The House of Peoples' Representatives, where 99 percent of the seats are controlled by the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front, passed on May 24 the Telecom Fraud Offenses Proclamation, local newspaper Addis Admas reported. The law purports to "prevent and control telecom fraud," which it described as "a serious threat to national security beyond economic losses," according to a copy of the text obtained by CPJ.
The law allows for a prison sentence of up to eight years and a fine of up to 80,00 birr (US$4,500) for "using or causing the use of any telecommunications network or apparatus to disseminate any terrorizing message" or using telecommunications for an "illegal purpose." What constitutes a "terrorizing message" could be broadly interpreted under the country's far-reaching anti-terrorism law, which criminalizes reporting that the government deems favorable to banned opposition groups and causes.

The law also gives the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology unchecked authority over the import, sale, and possession of telecommunications equipment. Use or possession of equipment without government authorization is punishable by a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine of up to 40,000 birr (US$2,250). The ministry may determine which equipment may be used without a government permit.

The government retains a tight monopoly over telecommunications in Ethiopia, with state-run Ethio Telecom the sole national provider, according to CPJ research. Under the law, methods used by journalists to circumvent state surveillance, interception, or Internet censorship on Ethio Telecom in the course of newsgathering could be interpreted as "obstructing or interfering" with the network--a criminal offense carrying a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

"We condemn the Ethiopian government's systematic effort to control all forms of communications," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "Authorities are obviously deeply threatened by any source of independent information, from critical journalism to sharing of information online."

Ethio Telecom has been losing revenue to Internet-based communication services and popular international calling businesses, according to local reports. Local journalists, however, fear authorities will use the law to curtail cost-effective and secure communications with contacts, including those outside the country, where most dissidents reside. Over the past decade, Ethiopia drove more journalists into exile than any other country, according to CPJ research.

Local journalists say the government has sought to control the use of Internet-based telecom services in recent years, by cracking down on Internet cafés that offered Web-based telecommunications services and requiring them to keep records of the names and addresses of their customers, according to local reports. A student, Yidnek Hail, claimed he was arrested by Ethiopian authorities in December 2011 for showing citizens how to use Skype in an Internet café where he was employed in the capital, Addis Ababa, according to news reports.

Ethiopia: New Ethiopian law criminalises Skype, installs Internet filters

June 13th, 2012

New Ethiopian law criminalises Skype, installs Internet filters

By ARGAW ASHINE

Africa Review

The Ethiopian government has passed new legislation that criminalises the use of Internet-based voice communications such as Skype and other forms of Internet phone calling.

Authorities have also installed a new filtering system that monitors the use of the Internet in the tightly-controlled Horn of Africa country in a move seen as targeting dissidents.

The telecoms law strictly prohibits VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) which includes audio and video related social media communication, and the transfer of information packages through the fast growing global cyber networks.

It also authorises the government to inspect any imports of voice communication equipment and accessories, while also banning inbound shipments without prior permission.

Anyone involved in "illegal" phone calling services will be prosecuted and could be jailed for up to 15 years or fined heavily if found guilty.

Making an Internet phone call through different software is punishable by three to eight years-- automatically criminalising Skype and other similar voice services.

The government in the law's introductory annex defends such legislation as a timely and appropriate response to the ever increasing security threats globally and in Ethiopia.

But observers say the law is aimed at further limiting freedom of expression and the flow of information in the nation of 85 million people.

In the last five years websites and blogs critical of the government have been frequently blocked and all Amharic language broadcasts targeting Ethiopia jammed.

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Also read related article from Al Jazeera

Ethiopia - Tana Communication says it assembles 4,500 mobile phones a day

April 3rd, 2012

Ethiopia - Tana Communication says it assembles 4,500 mobile phones a day

Ethiopian mobile phone assembly plant, Tana Communication, says it assembles 4,500 mobile phones a day using 150 workers. The company said, it assembles three types of phones including a mobile phone with Geez scripts

Ethiopia: The Unconquered Nation, Crippled By Bureaucrats

May 30th, 2011

Ethiopia: The Unconquered Nation, Crippled By Bureaucrats

Seems like it’s Sub-Saharan Month around here: first Sarah Lacy went to Nigeria, and now here I am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and Africa’s fourth-largest city. It feels like a boomtown. There are cranes and construction sites everywhere, throwing up gleaming new glass-and-steel buildings full of shops selling computers and mobile phones. The major thoroughfares throng with people making, trading, repairing, unloading, selling, and generally hustling.

Don’t get me wrong: this is still a poor country. Electrical outages are regular occurrences, the taxis that patrol the city’s broad avenues are rusting Ladas, and the side streets are harrowed dirt strewn with garbage, lined with tin shacks, and patrolled by beggars and feral dogs.

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