The Ethiopian government has clamped down on Internet-based voice-calling service, making their use a criminal offence. By Craig Wilson.

June 14th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia’s state-owned Internet service provider, the Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (Ethio-Telcom), has begun performing deep-packet inspection of all Internet traffic in the country. The country’s government recently ushered in new legislation that criminalises the use of services such as Skype, Google Talk and other forms of Internet phone calling.

The new law, which came into effect on 24 May, makes use of Internet voice services punishable by hefty fines and up to 15 years in prison.

The official line from the government is that the move is intended to protect national security and protect the national, state-owned telecoms carrier from losing revenue to Skype and similar services; this, despite the fact that Ethiopia’s fixed-line penetration rate is the second worst in Africa (after Sierra Leone) at an estimated 1% of its 85m strong population.

Ethiopia has instituted numerous restrictions on its digital community in recent years. The government has previously closed down Internet cafes offering voice-over-Internet protocol services and, in December 2006, made it obligatory for Internet cafes to keep records of the names and addresses of their customers in an effort to clamp down on bloggers and other users critical of the regime.

The new law prohibits all VoIP traffic along with audio and video data traffic via social media. The Africa Review reports that the law also gives the government the right to inspect any imports of voice communication equipment and accessories.

The OpenNet Initiative, which tracks Internet filtering and surveillance, says in a report on Ethiopia that the country already blocks all blogs hosted at and at, a site that aggregates Ethiopian news and has space for blogs and forums.

The new legislation is no doubt also motivated by the events of the Arab Spring that saw mass protests organised via social media. With many bloggers critical of Ethiopia’s current government, censorship by the state looks likely to increase

  1. abba
    | #1

    i wonder when is this cursed dictator pm leaves our country his motive is not for supporting the economy but to put the people in the dark and to find excuse to clamp down more journalist and opposition party leaders as usual. for how long we can tolerate this man this is more than enough for the people.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    ቀተሎ ደግሞ ፈሰ ቡከና ኢሚል ይከለክላል .ለላው ሃገር የት ደርስዋል እድገት የማይፈልገ ተንኮለና መንግስት

  3. bad move
    | #3

    very bad move and backward thinking in this IT oriented generation

  4. bellay
    | #4

    The hard headed zenawi and his TPLF mafia are getting worse by the day. Their sickness is becoming more chronic and one that surely is going to finish them off soon. We have to feel sorry for them.

  5. ታሀታይ ደደቢት
    | #5

    This is really a great “improvement” soon woyane will make it a crime to send e-mail next if anyone who has a computer and internet access in Ethiopia will be charged by Woyane Terrosim Law kkkkkk
    Its ok there will be a day for payback for all woyanes

  6. Zerayakob Yared
    | #6

    ነገሮች ሁሉ በዛሬይቱ ኢትዮጵያ በግርንቢጥ ሆኗል እና, እስኪ ጥቅሱንም በግርንቢጥ አባባሉ እናንሮውና, “ለፃድቃን የወረደ ለሃጥአን ተረፈ” ሆኖ ነው እንዴ ታድያ ለካስ, ባለፉት ቀናቶች ዘ’መንፈሰ አባሻውልያን እና እንዲሁም አጃቢዎቻቸው የውስጥ አርበርኞች ሞያ በልብ ነው ፈሊጣቸው የይስሙላ ተቃዋሚዎቹ, በተግባር ግን የ’first lady the Gedaref ደበቅ ብሎ BUSINESS PARTNERS ዲሲያውያን(DC) የእገዳው ቀዳምያን ተጠቂዎች በመሆን በየምድረ ድረገፆች ሁሏ ቀዝቀዝ ብለው ያሉት!?ያልጠረጠረ ተመነጠረ ነውና ሁልሽም ጠንቀቅ በይ! አይ አልጠነቀቅም ካልሽ ደግሞ, የቀን ላሊበላ ድምፅሽን አቃርረሽ ገንዘቡ ግን ሳይዘንብልሽ ሲቀር, ሌባ ላመሉ ዳቦ ይልሳል ነውና, ያው እንደ ልማድሽ ፊደል ተሰራረቂ!

    ኢትዮጵያ ሆይ, የተሻለ ቀን ያምጣልሽ!

  7. MA
    | #7

    ‘Protect National security” A big joke, what about article 39 which allows KILELES the right to secession??

  8. sol
    | #8

    Nothing surprise me, what else we expect from fascist regime. We need to unite and through this fascist from our head.,

    | #9

    hahahahaha hahahahha hahaahhahaha, melese and his cadres have lost their minds. other countries create more new things everyday for their society, ethiopia on the other hand want to isolate itself from the world…..this leads to a more backward, uneducated, unprepared, servant-to the world, society. fb, youtube, twitter and other medias will slap u in to reality.
    freedom, freedom, freedom!

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