back to article Ethiopia to send Skype users to the slammer

The Ethiopian government has outlawed Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Those who disobey and continue to use programs such as Skype face up to 15 years in chokey. The law, passed last month, is said to help provide more national security. National security? Don't make me laugh. It's undoubtedly an effort to …

COMMENTS

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  1. Valerion
    Thumb Down

    Next week

    Email will be banned, to encourage use of the state-owned Post Office.

    1. Dotter

      Re: Next week

      Followed by any IM programs, presumably.

  2. DJV Silver badge
    FAIL

    In that case...

    ...the whole country should be cut off from the rest of the internet until they repeal this idiotic law.

    1. Figgus

      Re: In that case...

      I think the government is doing that now, just to protect their state owned internet.

    2. VV
      Meh

      Re: In that case...

      Perhaps its not that simple. My country also forms part of Africa, and we have a European telco with a 40% shareholding in our national carrier. It protects its own vested interests by ensuring the law is on its side.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK Next

    The Home Secretary and GCHQ are watching this with interest.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another role model for Theresa May

  5. Kevin Mac Uistin
    Unhappy

    VOIP over VPN

    Some VOIP services implement there own VPN connections, for instance SipGate.

    Is blocking these realistic? Or are VPN's outlawed too?

  6. Cannorn
    Trollface

    It was VOIP....

    It was VOUDP.....

  7. ACx

    Good. Now if the rest of us could jail twatter and farcebook users the world would be a much better place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      ABSOLUTELY!

      I'm with you 100% on that sentiment.

  8. asdf
    FAIL

    bless the 3rd world

    Glad to see they have their priorities right. Just because they act like Europeans defending their politically entrenched national telekom doesn't mean they are developed. I am sure the numerous hungry children in the country are grateful for their leaders ignoring the boring stuff like food production and malaria eradication to prop up the local rich/strong man.

  9. Don Jefe
    Meh

    Fairly Common

    This goes on a lot more than people think. I used to work for a company who specializes in billing leakage prevention & our systems are installed in 43 countries. Not all of them use it actively but the ability is there & they have constant data coming in on whose using VOIP, how often, and where many of the calls go. Even Skype calls can be followed, port hopping was solved ages ago.

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    2. asdf

      Re: Fairly Common

      >port hopping was solved ages ago.

      Funny they only caught the Lulzsec guy because once he didn't use tor before going onto IRC. Then again I guess only %.001 of users will use Tor so you can focus on them.

      1. asdf

        Re: Fairly Common

        Then again I have never tried skype through tor. Bet the quality is not real good but if in say Syria might really be worth it.

      2. asdf
        FAIL

        Re: Fairly Common

        Ack wasn't thinking. Even figuring out a user is using tor is hard especially if they vpn into another network first.

  10. ElNumbre
    Facepalm

    No Call Centres for Ethiopia then...

    So, I guess there won't be any opportunity for Ethiopia to become the next big thing in call centre drones after this twunterish move. I guess they'll just have to stick with their no doubt sustainable trade activities.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are we sending them international aid? amazed they can afford computers.

  12. Alan 6 Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    That's a bit of a bummer, I've just quoted a guy for loads of VOIP kit for their new production facility in Ethiopia

  13. Furbian
    Meh

    The UAE (Dubai) also has a VOIP ban...

    .. despite it's own telecom provider routing a bulk of its own traffic using it. You get a message stating that it volatiles their cultural and religious values etc. (?!). However they have become more upfront about it, stating that VoIP providers haven't helped build up the infrastructure for voice communication, so yes, they want to keep the duopoly (there are just 2 telecoms providers) going.

    Even with the ban people are busy using proxies etc. to by pass it, but they'd only raid net caffes who tended to offer it at a price to customer, as far as I know. They were also busy blocking the proxies as they appeared, just like a cat and mouse game.

    Obviously call costs are exorbitant, so all those poor ex-pat builders and road sweeps etc. who can't bring their families over, then have to pay for these expensive calls to stay in touch with their families, nice! Broadband costs are also sky high compared to Britain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UAE (Dubai) also has a VOIP ban...

      Whilst you cannot download Skype you can use it if its pre installed on your hardware.

      Never had an issue using it when I was in Abu Dhabi and was in common use amongst all the contractors from various continents.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UAE (Dubai) also has a VOIP ban...

      Actually, in Dubai's case. It's to fight communists and witches.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UAE (Dubai) also has a VOIP ban...

      Lucky swine... when I was in Saudi, the *Internet* was illegal!

  14. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Are you sure its to protect their companies?

    Bashing monopolies is all well and good, but are you sure its not just that they are incapable of tapping VoIP calls?

    Ethiopia is a poor country and the equipment to listen in on VoIP calls is fairly expensive. Regular phone calls can be tapped for a the cost of a cheap telephone and access to switch bank where VoIP tapping requires

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are you sure its to protect their companies?

      This can be fixed with a new technology: VOMODEM !!

      Encrypt your voice datastream, and transmit it over landlines via modem. They can record it, but they won't be able to figure it out.

  15. Grumpy Fellow
    Pint

    Both ends of the call?

    I wonder if Ethiopia will seek extradition for the folks at the far end of international VOIP/SKYPE calls. I can see the states going along with that in exchange for the extradition of Ethiopians who "pirate" videos and music.

  16. Steven Jones

    International termination charges

    International telephone call termination charges are often one of the biggest sources of hard currency revenues in developing countries. Indeed these, often very high, charges have been the source of a lot of settlement disputes. This, not just domestic revenues, will be at the heart of this sort of decision. Expect several other developing countries to seek to protect their revenue streams the same way.

  17. kevin biswas
    FAIL

    More sense in Bangladesh

    Bangladesh also has a fairly strongly enforced VOIP ban to protect the govt telco but the ban applies only to people providing unlicensed commercial call termination facilities and similar. There is no restriction on use of normal end-user products like skype.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not as evil

    Now, now. Don't over react. It's not as evil as it all seems. It's actually done to save the children and fight paedos.

  19. Chris Evans
    Thumb Down

    Caleb missed the obvoius point

    He said "It wouldn't be the first time a country has blocked VoIP" (China) but didn't follow up with reporting if it was successful or not!

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