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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ethiopia, the only Sub-Saharan Country with Nationwide Internet Filtering

I can't help but to be proud and happy when my homeland, Ethiopia has received its Internet Freedom Report Card from Freedom House in which it slipped in its Internet Freedom index from 75 last year to 79 this year. Thanks to the visionary late prime minister, Ethiopia is investing billions of taxpayers' money and the government maintains a strict system of controls over digital media, making Ethiopia the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa to implement nationwide internet filtering. Well, our developmental government can not be accused for having one of the lowest rates of internet and mobile telephone penetration in the world, as meager infrastructure, a government monopoly over the telecom sector, and obstructive telecom policies have notably hindered the growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the country.
Our huge investment has returns: two individuals were prosecuted for their ICT activities, while harsh sentences were upheld for
two imprisoned “terrorist” journalists. Without the commercial spyware toolkit FinFisher which was installed in Ethiopia in August 2012, can you imagine how many millions of Ethiopians would have been spending sleepless nights at this moment? The thought gives my spine shivers.
It shouldn't be blamed either for liberalizing the telecom sector and then took it back the monopoly under the five year Growth and Transformation Plan. Such a system is made possible by the state’s monopoly over the country’s only telecom company, Ethio Telecom, which returned to government control after a two-year management contract with France Telecom expired in December 2012. Our best friend from the east and Mecca for internet censorship and filtering is helping our developmental government’s implementation of deep-packet inspection technology for censorship. Tor network, which helps people communicate anonymously online, was blocked in mid- 2012. I think we should be at least celebrate our country's unique status in this endeavor: Here are some of our grades in 2013 according to Freedom House's detailed research as far as Freedom of Expression is concerned. It can't get any better.
  
If you are keen in finding out more about Ethiopia's success stories with regard to internet censorship and other matters please click here.  

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