Ethiopia clamps down on the internet

Ethiopia is clamping down further on internet use, according to Reporters Without Borders, the international non-governmental organisation that advocates freedom of the press and information.

The French-based agency claims that Ethiopian authorities have barred access to the network known as Tor, a system which guarantees users anonymity by concealing their location and correspondence.

Recent reports suggest that using Skype or similar internet call services in Ethiopia have been criminalised and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.

Reporters Without Borders fears that it could be part of a broader policy by the government to increase its censorship of the internet, which it has long restricted, to allow authorities to intercept any email, social network post or internet-based phone call made in Ethiopia.

One theory behind the measures is to discourage people from making cheap calls via the internet so that the government can protect its monopoly on the expensive state-owned Ethiopia Telecom. Another theory relates to the fact that it is difficult to listen in on calls made through Skype.

The latest clamp-down follows recent high-profile cases against Ethiopian and foreign journalists.

In another curb on freedom of information Reporters Without Borders also reports that Ethiopia's state-owned printing presses are demanding the right to approve (or reject) articles before printing them.