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Ethiopian Government Denies Banning Skype

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the those-greedy-capitalists dept.

Censorship 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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Wait, they actually have the Internet in Africa? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426831)

I thought all those Nigerian scams were totally faking up the country.

Re:Wait, they actually have the Internet in Africa (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426959)

Niggers....

*shakes head*

Apps (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426861)

Is MyCleanPC legal there? Anyone on /. have MyCleanPC information?

Re:Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40430091)

In Africa, they prefer MyCleanPenis.

Well then... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426863)

... How will people call out for food?

Re:Well then... (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426977)

They'll use the state owned telephone service. And presumably, they'll pay handsomely for the privilege.

Officially denied? (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40428109)

"Believe nothing until it has been officially denied" - Claud Cockburn [wikiquote.org] . And it's especially believable when it has been denied with such weasel words [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Officially denied? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40431815)

From watching a youtube video [youtube.com] (Amharic) of him giving the press conference, I wonder if he had really understood the bill (draft or otherwise). Any ethiopians in here? What's your impression?

Re:Well then... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427343)

... 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.

Re:Well then... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40428157)

"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?

Re:Well then... (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40433789)

According to the summary, probably not.

Re:Well then... (1)

Cito (1725214) | about 2 years ago | (#40443313)

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?

Money & power. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426885)

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

What? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426897)

If they cannot afford food, how can they afford internet service and a computer?

Re:What? (1)

segin (883667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426973)

Supply and demand probably puts computers and internet as cheaper than food in Ethopia. After all, you must know something even exists before you can demand it.

Re:What? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427381)

Supply and demand probably puts computers and internet as cheaper than food in Ethopia. After all, you must know something even exists before you can demand it.

I demand my own personal invisible pink Unicorn.

Re:What? (1)

TuringCheck (1989202) | more than 2 years ago | (#40430469)

Here's your invisible pink unicorn: --><--

Can't you see it?

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40428285)

Ethiopia is like the US in many respects. Just like in the US, Ethiopia can have modern skyscrapers [nazret.com] and modern roads, and just like in the US, Ethiopia can have people that go hungry every night.

The only difference now is that if you're a journalist who's trying to call attention to the corruption and to the problems of the Ethiopian government by reaching out to the international community through the use of tools like Skype, you'll probably end up in prison for 15 years.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40430397)

...you'll probably end up in prison for 15 years.

You figure that's how long Manning will get? Ah, but that's different, right?

It just happens to not be working... (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426963)

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

First Ethiopia, then the west (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426975)

that's all.

Department of redundancy department (2)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427093)

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:Department of redundancy department (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427393)

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!

Ethiopa (2)

Sussurros (2457406) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Ethiopa (1)

johnstrass1 (2451730) | more than 2 years ago | (#40428085)

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 with the short-sighted vision (oh, thats quite an abuse of language) of state control that thames an essential infrastructure tool and crushes it. For /. readers who don't understand the importance of Ethiopia, it is the country of Coffee and the 2 hour offer ritual. Hmmm I'm going to go roast some beans and popcorn...

Re:Ethiopa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40428227)

The purpose of writing is to communicate and no how poorly you do it, so long as you are successful, I try to ignore errors. Your post failed.

I can't of my medical work in Africa...

You can't speak of your medical work? You can't do your medical work? You can't get any medical work in Africa? Did you add a word, forget one or just throw some random ones in the mix?

...of state control that thames an essential infrastructure...

What? No, really, what? I don't think running Japanese through babelfish would give you something that garbled. I want to point out that saying "M$" is probably a poor choice, but really the rest is so bad that one childish dig doesn't even sink far enough to fit in.

I really can't emphasize enough how little I want to care, but it throws off my reading rhythm when I run across something so poorly written that I can't make sense of it even with an extra run through. Obviously, you are capable of expressing yourself. Your word choices indicate you possess at least a basic level of literacy, but come on, read through the preview at least once.

Re:Ethiopa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40428655)

The purpose of writing is to communicate and no * how poorly you do it, so long as you are successful, I try to ignore errors. Your post failed.

Read your own post AC, you forgot to include the word here.

Re:Ethiopa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40428833)

As I said, the purpose of writing is to communicate. Obviously I've failed because you couldn't tell what I was trying to say because you couldn't make sense of any of my post because I missed a word. Sorry about that.

Unless you're just being a pathetic whiney petty bitch. In which case, I'm not really sorry that you're a pathetic whiney petty bitch. But hey, kudos on your editing skills.

Re:Ethiopa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432127)

For /. readers who don't understand the importance of Ethiopia, it is the country of Coffee and the 2 hour offer ritual.

I am not sure what is meant here. As the previous AC said, your post has got some language problems, too. (My first guess is would be use of a phone with predictive text)

Back to my question, ethiopia is the country of Adowa [wikipedia.org] , the monolithic churches of Lalibela [unesco.org] , Haile Gebre Sellasie [wikipedia.org] , and a lot more. So, what exactly was your point?

Probably the call termination fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40427205)

Probably what is forbidden is connecting a VOIP box to the local telephone system. That way the state misses out on the 'incoming phone call tax'.

At least that would not something to do by accident, but a type of tax-avoiding business. I suppose local tax income is rather difficult.

No, seriously (1)

Sussurros (2457406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427231)

Collecting tax in Ethiopia has to be easier than collecting tax in Greece.

Re:No, seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40438327)

Collecting tax in Ethiopia has to be easier than collecting tax in Greece.

Juggling spinning hacksaws without losing a limb is easier than collecting tax in Greece.

Nothing new, pot,kettle, black (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427225)

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.

Re:Nothing new, pot,kettle, black (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427903)

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

Should block mobiles too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40427321)

"the draft bill prevents illegal use of internet phone"

VOIP is not the only method of carrying out illegal activities, most gangsters and criminals use mobile phones, not PCs. This is nothing more than the Ethio Telecom monopoly securing their revenue. According to Wikipedia the average rural inhabitant of Ethiopia has to walk 30 kilometers to the nearest phone, nice!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_in_Ethiopia

Just maybe (1)

GerryHattrick (1037764) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427341)

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.

Re:Just maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40428123)

Government statements suggest this to be more about protecting the business of the incumbent state owned telecoms monopoly. State telecoms company provides service, for a cost, and on discovering that other people are legitimately using the service to make money, cries foul and demands its cut. It's little different to the ISPs in Europe who'd love to ditch net neutrality in favour of promoting their own products, or slapping a levy on high value services. Kind of like the electricity wanting to change me a higher rate if I should use my home computer to do a bit of lucrative consulting.

It's just about maintaining the monopoly (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

A move straight out of the Dictator's Handbook (3, Funny)

water-and-sewer (612923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40428093)

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]

Nitpick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40428173)

Sorry to pick your nits, but you stated that the punishment was for "using internet phone illegally", not that "internet phones are illegal". One could presume that using internet phone illegally meant something like hacking a voip-gateway to get free calls or something.

Don't let this prevent you from dissing on ethiopians. It's their own fault they didn't get born in the US, anyway. Carry on.

Not the only country (3, Interesting)

canadiannomad (1745008) | more than 2 years ago | (#40428861)

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.

Also in the news (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 2 years ago | (#40431833)

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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