Stop Balkanizing the Internet by Marietje Schaake, Dutch Member of the European Parliament
Posted in: Governance at 18/07/2012 22:16
The government of Ethiopia has announced a ban on the use of a wide range of Internet communication services. According to reports, the draft Telecom Law criminalizes the use of Skype and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Violators face a high financial penalty or a 15 year prison sentence. In practice, the law would also mean that all Internet traffic of 85 million Ethiopians will be monitored. End of story for unrestricted Internet access, freedom of expression and access to information online. The subsequent international outcry has forced the government to clarify its intentions and signalled a possible backtracking of the initial plans. Proposals like these show that authoritarian regimes are wary of losing their grip on power due to the Internet. They desperately seek to regain it by imposing new rules and regulations.