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Skype and other VoIP providers are not welcomed in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has banned the use of Skype and other Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) services that offers audio and video related communications over the Internet. The new law passed late last month and breaking the law is punishable by 15 years in prison.

According to Reporters Without Borders, the Horn of Africa countries endorsed reasons of national security law. Internet-based phone calls are a very popular means of communication for government opponents and their supporters abroad. Act of Addis Ababa is interpreted in an attempt to cut off lines of communication with Ethiopians abroad, from which the opposition secure most of their funds.

However, it is believed that the new legislation aims to protect the state monopoly in telephone communications. Ethiopian people prefer to use the Internet based phone calls than phone calls because they are far cheaper. The law is also said to allow the Ministry of Communications and Information to stop the import of communications equipment.

Reporters Without Borders has criticized Ethiopia crackdown on Internet users and accused the East African nation's test "attacks every way exchange of information."

Ambroise Pierre from Reporters Without Borders Africa service told the BBC: "There is already a very strict control on the written press, and last year several journalists were arrested, and now the government is tackling the communication on the Internet".

Local journalists have accused the Ethiopian government of trying to take total control of Internet-based Telecom services by intensifying a crackdown in Internet cafés over the past few weeks.

Last week, Reporters Without Borders accused Ethiopia of further intensifying censorship of the press and the Internet by what the group stand uses a sophisticated technology, Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) - an advanced network of filters used to selectively block websites.

It also accused the country's state owned the printing presses trying to impose political censorship of media content prior to publication. The number of international press freedom group accused Ethiopia of censorship of the press and dangerous safety of journalists using controversial law.

According to CPJ research, Ethiopia drove more journalists in exile than in any other country, in the past decades. The country is also foremost jailer of journalists after Africa bordering Eritrea.

Voice over IP (VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol) popularly refers to the communication protocols, technologies, methodologies, and transmission techniques used in the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over the Internet. Other terms commonly associated with VoIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband (VoBB), broadband telephony, IP communications, and broadband Internet phone.