Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stop Balkanizing the Internet

Schaake, Marietje. "Stop Balkanizing the Internet." The Huffington Post, July 17, 2012.

From the blog: "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. 

Unfortunately, Ethiopia is just one of many joining the growing list of countries that target unrestricted access to the Internet and information online through legislation. China, Iran and Cuba are notorious for building electronic walls that cut off Internet users. These de facto 'intranets' are governed by strict terms of use that regulate access to information and monitor all Internet traffic. The balkanization of the Internet is looming." Read more