List

Well we Ethiopians have never had dragons in our mythology and folklore like Chinese but so far there has been attempt by Ethiopians to bring on dragons to our culture in the most nauseating manner – internet censorship. Comparatively internet has been the last remaining source of relatively free information for tech-savvy Ethiopians which are mainly concentrated in Addis Ababa in a massively controlled media landscape.

Ethiopian authorities have to endure a persistent censure from the international community for keeping an iron fist on local media. However as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi claimed at a recent World Economic Forum in Addis when the going gets tough the tough gets going and he consistently ensures that most media organizations are government mouthpieces , and he keeps critics off the airwaves either by jailing them or by coercing them into exile

Ethiopian authorities deny over and over again the accusations of implementing Chinese style internet censorships but recently there are signs that the government has reached the level that they could not even disagree with allegations. Recently a website of the ruling party EPRDF has reported that Ethiopian leaders attended a workshop with Chinese officials on June 2-3 to discuss China’s experience regarding mass media capacity building, mass media institution management and Internet management. This could be taken as a new trend and can be implied that government is reconsidering its denial policy. No need to show a bogus existence of freedom of expression in Ethiopia to foster a good relationship with western donor countries as Ethiopia has an alternative in China with similar if not identical media policy.

More to the point very recently Ethiopian parliament has passed a first legislation step in legalizing a new telecom fraud offense proclamation. I have given a brief analysis on this proclamation right away its announcement three weeks ago though the international media picked the story only recently. This proclamation provides broad and ambiguous definitions particularly for telecommunication services and equipment which might be used to include blogging and possessing social media pages such as facebook and twitter.

The draft Proclamation defines telecommunication services as anything designated as telecommunication service by Ministry of Information Technology (MIT) with the exception of broadcasting and intercom connections and listed more than ten services that are considered as telecom services. Furthermore the proclamation enlarges the definition of telecommunication equipment in considerable ways to include any apparatus intended to use for telecommunication services and it includes its accessory and software. While governments have a right to oversee internet communications within their borders by enacting laws such as this but it should not be at the expense of freedom of expression and international standard of freedom of information.

The overly broad definitions of telecommunication services and equipment have implications for other parts of the Proclamation. For instance in part two article 2 sub (2) of the proclamation, the bill provides whoever uses or holds any telecommunication equipment without obtaining prior permit from the Ministry (MIT) commits an offense and shall unless it entails a more severe penalty under any other law be punishable with rigorous imprisonment from 1 to 4 years and with 10,000 birr (US$ 600) to 40,000 Birr (US$2400) . Together with the broad and vague definition of telecommunication services and equipment, this provision alone can show the way for a wider range of allegations in which individuals seeking to express political dissent online could find themselves prosecuted for acts of telecom service fraud and imprisoned for 5 to 8 years

Overall the Ethiopian media situation is fairly dismal but the hilarious part is government of Ethiopia look forward to to move toward a more vibrant economy with such kind of media policy. I do not think they will realize their dreams of becoming a vibrant economy without opening critical lines of communication between the government, media, and citizens. Internet has grown to be way to achieve an accountable and transparent government free from corruption and tyranny.

3 Responses to “A Perspective on the New Ethiopian Telecom Bill”

  1. L’Éthiopie, futur ennemi de l’Internet » OWNI, News, Augmented

    […] Ginbot 7 fait partie) encourt une peine de 20 ans de prison. Le blogueur Endalk donne un exemple concret du résultat choc de la combinaison de ces deux lois : Poster un simple statut pour […]

  2. Ethiopia: Enemy of the Internet? » OWNI.eu, News, Augmented

    […] a famous Ethiopian blogger, gives an example of the consequences the mix of these two laws could lead […]

  3. Although still at draft stage, new telecom rules give cause for concern | ethioinfo

    […] A Perspective on the New Ethiopian Telecom Bill (endalk.wordpress.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

  Posts

1 2 3 10
April 11th, 2017

Ethiopia spied on US citizen of Ethiopian origin and won a dismissal

Ethiopian government won dismissal of a lawsuit by Kidane, an American citizen of Ethiopian origin who sought to hold Ethiopian […]

March 24th, 2013

From Supreme Court to Council of Ministers

A note on my absence I have not been blogging on my personal blog since last August but not without […]

August 14th, 2012

An Initiative of Ethiopian Media Council: A Media Regulatory Body without the Existence of Media is a Joke

Last week “The Capital”, one of the three weekly English newspapers ran an article about “Members of Ethiopian Media decision […]

August 2nd, 2012

How and who to follow on the whereabouts of Meles Zenawi

Introduction Forty-one days passed since Prime Minster Meles Zenawi was seen on public. In the days after his last appearance […]

July 28th, 2012

Unpacking the rumor dynamics about the whereabouts of Meles Zenawi

Prime Minster Meles Zenawi has always been a man of mysteries and at this time he kept being conspicuously a […]

June 18th, 2012

A Perspective on the New Ethiopian Telecom Bill

Well we Ethiopians have never had dragons in our mythology and folklore like Chinese but so far there has been […]

June 9th, 2012

በዚህ ሳምንት(ከ June 2-9) የኢትዮጵያ ብሎጎች ምን ጻፉ?

አንዳንድ ጋዜጠኞች “አማረ አረጋዊ አሁንም ከወያኔ ስርአት ጋር ይሰራል” ሲሉ ይፅፋሉ። ሌሎች ደግሞ፣ ‘በቂ ገንዘብና ጠንካራ መንፈስ ስላለው ተቋቁሞአቸው እንጂ፣ […]

May 28th, 2012

The New Ethiopian Telecom Service Infringements Law. Is it the most creative way of copying SOPA and PIPA?

The new Ethiopian Telecom Service Infringement Law was ratified last Thursday on May 24th 2012 .The new Telecom Law meant […]

May 24th, 2012

Ethiopia free press situation on the spotlight

A recent G-8 meeting brought Ethiopia free press situation on the spotlight again. The meeting caused gatherings of free press […]

May 20th, 2012

Ethiopia English Blogs Roundup

For my Amharic blog roundup followers I promise it is coming up but for now I decided to do English […]