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Global Voices: Ethiopian Protester Sentenced to Six Years Behind Bars for Facebook Posts May 27, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Because I am Oromo.
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Ethiopian Protester Sentenced to Six Years Behind Bars for Facebook Posts

Yonatan Tesfaye. Photo shared on Twitter by Eyasped Tesfaye @eyasped

This week in Ethiopia, two prominent human rights advocates and critics of the ruling government were given long-term prison sentences for “incitement” on Facebook.

On May 25, Yonatan Tesfaye was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for “inciting” antigovernment protests in nine Facebook updates.

Breaking: fed court sentenced former oppos’n Blue party PR head to six years & 3 months in jail for terrorism

The 30-year-old activist has been an outspoken opponent of government’s violent response to the popular protest movement that has challenged Ethiopia’s ruling party and government since 2015. Yonatan had previously served as a press officer for the leading opposition Blue Party before resigning in 2015.

Yonatan was jailed for nine Facebook posts that expressed solidarity with the protesters, called for open dialogue and pleaded for an end to the violence.

The day before his sentencing, Yonatan’s former colleague Getachew Shiferaw, was found guilty of inciting violence for a private message he sent to colleagues through his Facebook messenger app. The former editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Negere Ethiopia, Getachew was sentenced to one year and six months in prison:

Breaking- court sentenced , editor-in-chief of Negere Ethiopia NP, to 1yr & half in jail, time he already served

The Facebook message that allegedly contained inciting content made reference to a heckling incident targeting late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at a 2012 symposium in Washington, D.C. In the message Getachew wrote, “since the political space in Ethiopia is closed heckling Ethiopian authorities on public events [sic] should be a standard practice.”

These cases are among many others of less well-known citizens who have spoken out against the regime’s violent targeting of protesters demanding protections for land rights and other fundamental freedoms. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 800 people have died at the hands of Ethiopian police, and thousands of political opponents have been imprisoned and tortured during the protests.

Facebook is a key tool for activists — and law enforcement

Facebook, along with other social media platforms, has had a central role in interactions between authorities and protesters. Ethiopian authorities have blamed social media for waves of protests that began in April 2014 and have continued ever since. In October 2016, Facebook was blocked in Ethiopia as part of the government’s state of emergency. But activists — and likely Ethiopian law enforcement — have continued to use the platform via VPN.

Although it is difficult to know the precise number of detainees, dozens of arrests appear to have been triggered by a person posting, liking or sharing a post on Facebook. Others have been arrested for communicating with diaspora-based activists through Facebook messages.

These cases have been compounded by an increasingly common practice in which Ethiopian authorities demand that detainees divulge their Facebook logins and passwords. In some cases, people have been arrested before being charged, forced to hand over their Facebook credentials, and then charged based on what authorities find in their accounts.

Police will arrest activists, force them to hand over their Facebook credentials, and then charge them based on what they find in their private message logs.

Getachew was charged with “inciting violence” after he was forced to give his username and password of his Facebook page. The private chat texts on his Facebook message were presented as evidence in his charge sheet.

Whatever the court decides, friends and family members of Yonatan and Getachew wanted the case to end. So, they would learn their fate, to take their fight to the next stage. But their case, like so many others court cases, had been delayed.

In Ethiopia, it is not uncommon for court cases involving bloggers journalists and politicians to take longer than other cases. This causes exhaustion for defendants and brings pain to their loved ones.

Yonatan and Getachew each spent 18 months in jail before they learned their fate. They were brought before the court at least a dozen times. Their private Facebook accounts were laid bare by authorities. Judges failed to appear in court, and police failed to bring defendants to court on their trial days, causing their cases to drag on for 18 months.

Facebook has been a critical platform for Ethiopian activists and rights advocates working to document and communicate human rights violations. This makes the experience of Yonatan and Getachew an especially chilling story for Ethiopians.

Freedom of the Net 2016: Ethiopia country profile: Social Media/ICT Apps Blocked: Press Freedom Status: Not Free January 14, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Internet Freedom.
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JUNE 2015–MAY 2016

  • Internet and mobile phone networks were repeatedly disrupted around the country, particularly in the Oromia region during antigovernment protests that began in November 2015 (see Restrictions on Connectivity).
  • Social media and communications platforms were temporarily blocked several times to restrict information about antigovernment protests and police brutality (see Blocking and Filtering).
  • News websites were newly blocked for reporting on the Oromo protests and a severe drought, adding to a growing blacklist (see Blocking and Filtering).
  • In May 2016, blogger Zelalem Workagenehu was sentenced to over five years in prison for leading a digital security course (see Prosecutions and Arrests for Online Activities).
  • Prosecutors challenged the release of members of the Zone 9 blogging collective, after they were acquitted of terrorism charges in 2015 (see Prosecutions and Arrests for Online Activities).
Introduction:

Internet freedom declined in the past year as the government cracked down on antigovernment protests and the digital tools citizens used to organize them.

Starting in the Oromo region in November 2015 as a protest against the authoritarian government’s plan to infringe on land belonging to the marginalized Oromia people, the movement spread across the country in the subsequent months, turning into unprecedented demonstrations seeking regime change and democratic reform.

In a heavy-handed response, the authorities frequently shutdown local and national internet and mobile phone networks to prevent citizens from communicating about the protests. Social media platforms and communications apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and IMO were also temporarily blocked at different times. In October 2016, the government imposed a six-month state of emergency on October 17, resulting in another internet shutdown lasting several days. Under the state of emergency, accessing or posting content related to the protests on social media and efforts to communicate with “outside forces” are criminal offenses.

News websites and blogs reporting on the protests were permanently blocked in 2015 and 2016. Separately, critical news about the current drought—the worst the country has experienced in 50 years—was systematically censored. Meanwhile, the authorities arrested and prosecuted several bloggers, sentencing blogger Zelalem Workagenehu to five years in prison in May 2016. He was convicted of conspiring to overthrow the government for facilitating a course on digital security. The government’s persecution of the Zone 9 bloggers continued. Though four of the bloggers were acquitted in October 2015, the prosecutor appealed their release to the Supreme Court, and they were repeatedly summoned throughout the year.

The legal environment for internet freedom became more restrictive under the Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016, which criminalizes defamation and incitement. The proclamation also strengthens the government’s surveillance capabilities by enabling real-time monitoring or interception of communications.

Internet and mobile phone networks were deliberately disrupted in many parts of the country throughout the year, particularly in the Oromia region during largescale antigovernment protests that erupted in November 2015. Meanwhile, poor infrastructure, obstructionist telecom policies, and a government monopoly on the ICT sector make ICT services prohibitively expensive for the majority of the population.

Availability and Ease of Access

Ethiopia is one of the least connected countries in the world with an internet penetration rate of only 12 percent, according to 2015 data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).1 Mobile phone penetration is also poor at 43 percent, up from just 32 percent in 2014.2 Low penetration rates stem from underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure, which is almost entirely absent from rural areas, where about 85 percent of the population resides. A handful of signal stations service the entire country, resulting in network congestion and frequent disconnection.3 In a typical small town, individuals often hike to the top of the nearest hill to find a mobile phone signal.

Access to ICT services remains prohibitively expensive for most Ethiopians, largely due to the government’s monopoly over the telecom sector, which provides consumers with few options. Prices are set by state-controlled EthioTelecom and kept artificially high.4 Price cuts announced in February 2016 mitigated some of the financial strain,5 bringing mobile internet prices to ETB 5 (US$ 0.25) per day for 25 MB of data or ETB 3,000 (US$ 140) per month for 30 GB. Nonetheless, the lower cost 25 MB package is extremely limited considering a standard Google search uses up to 79 KB alone. Regularly loading websites containing 1 GB of multimedia content could cost US$ 9 a day. William Davison, Bloomberg’s Ethiopia correspondent, described the issue on Facebook in March 2016: “It cost me 44 birr ($2.05) to watch Al Jazeera’s latest 3-minute dispatch on Oromo protests using 4G network on my phone, which is not that much less than the average daily wage of a daily laborer in Ethiopia.”6 Ethiopians can spend an average of US$85 per month for limited mobile or fixed wireless internet access. Better quality services in neighboring Kenya and Uganda cost less than US$30 a month.

Telecommunication devices, connection fees and other related costs are also beyond the means of many Ethiopians. As a result, Ethiopia has among the lowest smartphone ownership rates in the world at only 4 percent according to a recent Pew survey.7 In April 2016, EthioTelecom proposed a new pricing scheme to charge more for the use of popular Voice-over-IP (VoIP) platforms such as Viber and Facebook Messenger on mobile devices.8 This would make smartphone usage even more expensive.

Consequently, the majority of internet users still rely on cybercafés for internet access. A typical internet user in Addis Ababa pays between ETB 5 and 7 (US$ 0.25 to 0.35) for an hour of access. Because of the scarcity of internet cafes outside urban areas, however, rates in rural cybercafés are higher. In addition, digital literacy rates are generally low.

For the few Ethiopians who can access the internet, connection speeds have been painstakingly slow for years, despite the rapid technological advances improving service quality in other countries. In a test conducted in the capital Addis Ababa,9 the average connection speed during one week in March 2016 was 1.2 Mbps—five times slower than the average 5.5 Mbps connection speed in Kenya. According to Akamai, the average connection speed in Ethiopia was 3 Mbps in the first quarter of 2016, significantly lower than the global average of 6.3 Mbps (Kenya’s average speed was documented at 7.3 Mbps in the same period).10

In practice, such speeds result in extremely sluggish download times, even of simple images. Logging into an email account and opening a single message can take as long as five minutes at a standard cybercafé with broadband in the capital city, while attaching documents or images to an email can take eight minutes or more.11 On mobile connections, Akamai found Ethiopia had the world’s slowest average load time, at 8.5 seconds.12

Compounding Ethiopia’s onerous access issues, severe drought in 2015 and 2016 has had a negative impact on the country’s hydroelectric electricity production,13 resulting in frequent and extended power outages that limit users’ ability to access the internet even further.14

Restrictions on Connectivity

The Ethiopian government’s monopolistic control over the country’s telecommunications infrastructure via EthioTelecom enables it to restrict information flows and access to internet and mobile phone services. In 2015–16, the flow of online traffic into, within, and out of Ethiopia registered a significant decline, likely as a result of network throttling, repeated internet shutdowns, and increased blocking.

As a landlocked country, Ethiopia has no direct access to submarine cable landing stations; thus, it connects to the international internet via satellite, a fiber-optic cable that passes through Sudan and connects to its international gateway, and the SEACOM cable that connects through Djibouti to an international undersea cable. All connections to the international internet are completely centralized via EthioTelecom, enabling the government to cut off the internet at will.

Internet and mobile phone networks were disrupted in many parts of the country throughout the year. Oromia, the largest of the federal republic’s nine regional states, has experienced frequent telecom network since November 2015 saw the start of largescale demonstrations against the government’s plan to appropriate Oromia territory.15 The protest movement escalated and remained ongoing in late 2016, leading the government to declare a six-month state of emergency and shut down mobile internet services nationwide for several days in October.16

In an incident unrelated to the protests, internet services on computers and mobile devices were shut down for 24 hours in July 2016, ostensibly to prevent students from cheating during national university exams.17

The ICT shutdowns have been costly. Network disruptions between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 cost Ethiopia’s economy over US$ 8.5 million, according to the Brookings Institution.18

ICT Market

The space for independent initiatives in the ICT sector, entrepreneurial or otherwise, is extremely limited,19 with state-owned EthioTelecom holding a firm monopoly over internet and mobile phone services as the country’s sole telecommunications service provider. Despite repeated international pressure to liberalize telecommunications in Ethiopia, the government refuses to ease its grip on the sector.20

China is a key investor in Ethiopia’s telecommunications industry,21 with Zhongxing Telecommunication Corporation (ZTE) and Huawei currently serving as contractors to upgrade broadband networks to 4G in Addis Ababa and expand 3G networks elsewhere.22 The partnership has enabled Ethiopia’s authoritarian leaders to maintain their hold over the telecom sector,23though the networks built by the Chinese firms have been criticized for their high cost and poor service.24 Furthermore, the contracts have led to increasing fears that the Chinese may also be assisting the authorities in developing more robust ICT censorship and surveillance capacities (see Surveillance, Privacy, and Anonymity).25 In December 2014, the Swedish telecom group Ericsson also partnered with the government to improve and repair the mobile network infrastructure,26 though ZTE remains the sector’s largest investor.

Onerous government regulations also stymie other aspects of the Ethiopian ICT market. For one, imported ICT items are tariffed at the same high rate as luxury items, unlike other imported goods such as construction materials and heavy duty machinery, which are given duty-free import privileges to encourage investments in infrastructure.27 Ethiopians are required register their laptops and tablets at the airport with the Ethiopian customs authority before they travel out of the country, ostensibly to prevent individuals from illegally importing electronic devices, though observers believe the requirement enables officials to monitor citizens’ ICT activities by accessing the devices without consent.28

Local software companies also suffer from heavy-handed government regulations, which do not have fair, open, or transparent ways of evaluating and awarding bids for new software projects.29 Government companies are given priority for every kind of project, while smaller entrepreneurial software companies are completely overlooked, leaving few opportunities for local technology companies to thrive.

Cybercafés are subject to burdensome operating requirements under the 2002 Telecommunications (Amendment) Proclamation,30 which prohibit them from providing Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, and mandate that owners obtain a license from EthioTelecom via an opaque process that can take months. In the past few years, EthioTelecom began enforcing its licensing requirements more strictly in response to the increasing spread of cybercafés, reportedly penalizing Muslim cafe owners more harshly. Violations of the requirements entail criminal liability, though no cases have been reported.31

Regulatory Bodies

Since the emergence of the internet in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA) has been the primary regulatory body overseeing the telecommunications sector. In practice, government executives have complete control over ICT policy and sector regulation.32 The Information Network Security Agency (INSA), a government agency established in 2011 and controlled by individuals with strong ties to the ruling regime,33 also has significant power in regulating the internet under the mandate of protecting the communications infrastructure and preventing cybercrime.

News websites known for their reporting on the Oromo protests joined Ethiopia’s growing list of blocked content, while social media and communications platforms were blocked for periods of time throughout the coverage period for their role in disseminating information about the demonstrations and police brutality. The government manipulates online content, disseminating propaganda to convince Ethiopians that social media is a dangerous tool co-opted by opposition groups to spread hate and violence.

Blocking and Filtering

One of the first African countries to censor the internet,34 Ethiopia has a nationwide, politically motivated internet blocking and filtering regime that is reinforced during sensitive political events. More websites were newly blocked during the Oromia protests that began in November 2015. Targets included the websites of US-based diaspora satellite television stations such as Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and the Oromo Media Network (OMN), which provided wall-to-wall coverage of the antigovernment protests. Ayyantuu.net and Opride.com, prominent websites also known for their reporting on the protests, were also blocked.35

In an apparent attempt to restrict news about the protests from spreading, social media and file-sharing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Dropbox were repeatedly blocked for periods of time throughout the protests.36 The blocks on social media first impacted networks in the Oromia region but later spread to other regions,37 and eventually manifested in a shutdown of entire internet and mobile networks for days a time (see Restrictions on Connectivity).

Unrelated to the protests, the authorities blocked access to social media and communications platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, IMO, and Google+, to prevent cheating during university examinations on July 9 and 10, 2016.38 The blocks followed a 24-hour internet blackout for the same reason (see Restrictions on Connectivity). A government spokesperson stated that blocking social media during the exam would help students concentrate. However, some progovernment media organizations and commentators seemed to have exclusive access to social media during the block,39 which reinforced the belief that the government imposes restrictions on citizens while keeping the web open for its own advantage. Viber and IMO, two popular voice-over-IP applications, remained blocked until July 20, according to local sources.40

Separately, coverage of a severe drought—the worst the country has experienced in 50 years—was systematically censored in the past year, with news websites and blogs blocked for reporting on the impact of the disaster that strayed from the government’s official narrative.41

In total, over one hundred websites are inaccessible in Ethiopia.42 A manual test conducted on the ground in mid-2016 confirmed that a large number of the websites tested by Freedom House each year since 2012 remained blocked. Blocked sites include Ethiopian news websites, political party websites, and the websites of international digital rights organizations, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Tactical Technology Collective. Select tools such as text messaging apps and services on Google’s Android operating system on smartphones were also inaccessible, but at irregular intervals and for unclear reasons.43

Notably, several websites that hadn’t been updated for years and appeared abandoned became accessible again in 2016, likely because the authorities deemed them no longer threatening. The social media curation tool Storify—first blocked in July 201244—was also newly accessible during the coverage period,45 in addition to the URL shortening tool Bit.ly.46

To filter the internet, specific internet protocol (IP) addresses or domain names are generally blocked at the level of the EthioTelecom-controlled international gateway. Deep-packet inspection (DPI) is also employed, which blocks websites based on a keyword in the content of a website or communication (such as email).47

Digital security tools are also pervasively blocked in Ethiopia, including Tor, the circumvention tool that enables users to browse anonymously, which been blocked since May 2012.48 As social media platforms were blocked in the past year, diaspora-based activists publicized virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent the censorship, but certain VPNs were also subsequently blocked.49 Local sources suspected progovernment commenters were flagging the same tools to be blocked by the authorities. The Amharic translation of the Electronic Frontier Foundations’ “Surveillance Self-Defense” web guide was blocked two weeks after it was published in October 2015.50 One source reported that key terms such as “proxy” yield no search results on unencrypted search engines,51 reflecting the government’s efforts to limit users’ access to circumvention tools and strategies.

Some restrictions are also placed on content transmitted via mobile phones. Text messages to more than ten recipients require prior approval from EthioTelecom.52 A bulk text message sent without prior approval is automatically blocked, irrespective of the content.

There are no procedures for determining which websites are blocked or why, precluding any avenues for appeal. There are no published lists of blocked websites or publicly available criteria for how such decisions are made, and users are met with an error message when trying to access blocked content. The decision-making process does not appear to be controlled by a single entity, as various government bodies—including the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), EthioTelecom, and the ICT ministry—seem to be implementing their own lists, contributing to a phenomenon of inconsistent blocking. This lack of transparency is exacerbated by the government’s continued denial of its censorship efforts. Government officials flatly deny the blocking of websites or jamming of international satellite operations while also stating that the government has a legal and a moral responsibility to protect the Ethiopian public from extremist content.

Content Removal

Politically objectionable content is often targeted for removal, often by way of threats from security officials who personally seek out users and bloggers to instruct them to take down certain content, particularly critical content on Facebook. The growing practice suggests that at least some voices within Ethiopia’s small online community are being closely monitored. For instance, during the various legal proceedings involving the Zone 9 bloggers in 2015, friends and reporters who posted pictures and accounts of the trials on social media were briefly detained and asked to remove the posts.53 During protests in Oromia, activists who wrote messages of solidarity for the protestors on Facebook were also asked to delete their posts.54

Media, Diversity, and Content Manipulation

Lack of adequate funding is a significant challenge for independent online media in Ethiopia, as fear of government pressure dissuades local businesses from advertising with politically critical websites. A 2012 Advertising Proclamation also prohibits advertisements from firms “whose capital is shared by foreign nationals.”55 The process for launching a website on the local .et domain is expensive and demanding,56 requiring a business license from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and a permit from an authorized body.57 While the domestic Ethiopian blogosphere has been expanding, most blogs are hosted on international platforms or published by members of the diaspora community.

Despite Ethiopia’s extremely low levels of internet access, the government employs an army of trolls to distort Ethiopia’s online information landscape.58 Opposition groups, journalists, and dissidents use the contemptuous Amharic colloquial term, “Kokas,” to describe the progovernment commentators.59 Observers say the Kokas regularly discuss Ethiopia’s economic growth in favorable terms and post uncomplimentary comments about Ethiopian journalists and opposition groups on Facebook and Twitter. In return, they are known to receive benefits such as money, land, and employment promotions.

The government also manipulates online content through propaganda that aims to convince Ethiopians that social media is a dangerous tool co-opted by opposition groups to spread hate and violence.60 That characterization has been debunked by research. The University of Oxford and Addis Ababa University analyzed thousands of comments made by Ethiopians on Facebook during general election in 2015, finding that hate speech was a marginal proportion of the total comments assessed.61

Meanwhile, increasing repression against journalists and bloggers has had a major chilling effect on expression online, particularly in response to the spate of blogger arrests that have increased in the past few years (see Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities). Many bloggers publish anonymously to avoid reprisals.62 Fear of pervasive surveillance has also led to widespread self-censorship. Local newspapers and web outlets primarily publish reporting by regime critics and opposition organizations in the diaspora. Few independent local journalists will write for either domestic or overseas online outlets due to the threat of repercussions.

Digital Activism

Despite oppressive conditions caused by poor access and the hostile legal environment, online activism has gained considerable momentum and influence in the past year, particularly as traditional media coverage of current events has become increasingly narrow and dominated by pro-government voices. Notably, social media and communications platforms helped tech-savvy Ethiopians launch the widespread antigovernment protests in the Oromia region in November 2015. Online tools have been essential to the #OromoProtests movement, enabling activists to post information about the demonstrations and disseminate news about police brutality as the government cracked down on protesters.63 The use of such tools to fuel the protest movement led the government to block access to several platforms throughout the year, and shut down internet and mobile networks altogether (see Blocking and Filtering and Restrictions on Connectivity).

The new Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016 criminalizes defamation and incitement; observers say it could be invoked to suppress digital mobilization. The proclamation also strengthens the government’s surveillance capabilities by enabling real-time monitoring or interception of communications. Several bloggers were arrested and prosecuted, with one blogger sentenced to five years in prison, while prosecutors challenged the acquittal of the Zone 9 bloggers.

Legal Environment

Fundamental freedoms are guaranteed for Ethiopian internet users on paper, but the guarantees are routinely flouted in practice. The 1995 Ethiopian constitution provides for freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information, while also prohibiting censorship.64 These constitutional guarantees are affirmed in the 2008 Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, known as the press law, which governs the print media.65 Nevertheless, the press law also includes problematic provisions that contradict constitutional protections and restrict free expression, such as complex registration processes for media outlets and high fines for defamation.66 The Criminal Code also penalizes defamation with a fine or up to one year in prison.67

Meanwhile, several laws are designed to restrict and penalize legitimate online activities and speech.

Most alarmingly, the 2012 Telecom Fraud Offences Law extends the violations and penalties defined in the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and criminal code to electronic communications, which explicitly include both mobile phone and internet services.68 The antiterrorism legislation prescribes prison sentences of up to 20 years for the publication of statements that can be understood as a direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, which is vaguely defined.69 The law also bans Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype70 and requires all individuals to register their telecommunications equipment—including smartphones—with the government, which security officials typically enforce at security checkpoints by confiscating ICT equipment if the owner cannot produce a registration permit, according to sources in the country.

In June 2016, the Ethiopian government passed a new Computer Crime Proclamation that criminalized an array of online activities.71 Civil society expressed concern that the law would be used to further crackdown on critical commentary, political opposition, and social unrest.72 For example, content that “incites fear, violence, chaos or conflict among people” can be punished with up to three years in prison, which could be abused to suppress digital campaigns.73 Other problematic provisions ban the dissemination of defamatory content, which can be penalized with up to 10 years in prison,74 and the distribution of unsolicited messages to multiple emails (spam), which carries up to five years in prison.75

To quell escalating antigovernment protests that began in the Oromia region in November 2015, the government imposed a six-month state of emergency on October 17, 2016 that included restrictions on certain online activities.76 In addition to shutting down the internet for several days, the authorities criminalized the access and posting of content related to the protests on social media, as well as efforts to communicate with “terrorist” groups, a category that includes exiled dissidents. Penalties for violating the state of emergency include prison terms of three to five years.77

Prosecutions and Detention for Online Activities

In the past few years, the authorities have intensified their crackdown against bloggers and online journalists, using harsh laws to arrest and prosecute individuals for their online activities and silence dissent. The most high-profile prosecutions were against six bloggers from the critical Zone 9 blogging collective, who were arrested in April 2014,78 and charged with terrorism under the harsh Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in July.79 The bloggers were accused of intent to overthrow the government, an offense under the criminal code, by encrypting their communications to disseminate seditious writings.80

Despite widespread international condemnation, the detainees were denied bail and brought to court dozens of times for over a year,81 until two of them were unexpectedly released without charge in early July 2015, immediately before U.S. President Obama visited Ethiopia. The four remaining Zone 9 bloggers were acquitted in October 2015,82 though they were barred from leaving the country.83 The prosecutor contested their acquittal and appealed to the Supreme Court, and the four were summoned in December 2015 and in October 2016.84 They were scheduled to return to court in November 2016.85

Several other bloggers were arrested and prosecuted in the past year, including Getachew Shiferaw, editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Negere Ethiopia, in December 2015.86 Negere Ethiopia is known for its affiliation with the opposition as well as its coverage of the Zone 9 trials. Shiferaw remained in pretrial detention in mid-2016.87

The prominent opposition member Yonatan Tesfaye was arrested in December 2015 and charged with terrorism based on Facebook posts that criticized the government’s handling of the Oromia protests.88 He remained in prison in mid-2016 and faces the death sentence if convicted.89 Tesfaye’s Twitter handle has been active during his detention, leading to suspicions that the officials have been using his account to bait potential dissidents.90

In April 2016, blogger Zelalem Workagenehu was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to over five years in prison in May.91 He was first arrested in July 2014 on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government after he facilitated a course on digital security. In the same trial, bloggers Yonatan Wolde and Bahiru Degu were acquitted after spending nearly two years in detention on terrorism charges; they were also arrested in July 2014 for applying to participate in Workaegnehu’s digital security course.92 Workagenehu has appealed to the Supreme Court.93

The ongoing antigovernment protest movement has also led to numerous arrests, some for digital activities, including posting or “liking” social media content about the protests. In October 2016, police arrested Seyoum Teshome, a well-known academic and blogger for the Ethiothinktank.com website who had published an article about the Oromia protest movement inThe New York Times.94

Meanwhile, the well-known dissident journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega is serving an 18-year prison sentence handed down in July 2012 under the draconian anti-terrorism law for criticizing the law itself in an online article.95

Surveillance, Privacy, and Anonymity

Government surveillance of online and mobile phone communications is pervasive in Ethiopia and was strengthened under the new Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016, which enables real-time monitoring or interception of communications authorized by the Minister of Justice and obliges service providers to store records of all communications and metadata for at least a year.96

There are strong indications that the government has deployed a centralized monitoring system developed by the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE to monitor mobile phone networks and the internet, according to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report.97 Known for its use by repressive regimes in Libya and Iran, the monitoring system enables deep packet inspection (DPI) of internet traffic across the EthioTelecom network and has the ability to intercept emails and web chats.

Another ZTE technology, known as ZSmart, is a customer management database installed at EthioTelecom that provides the government with full access to user information and the ability to intercept SMS text messages and record phone conversations.98 ZSmart also allows security officials to locate targeted individuals through real-time geolocation tracking of mobile phones.99 While the extent to which the government has made use of the full range of ZTE’s sophisticated surveillance systems is unclear, the authorities frequently present intercepted emails and phone calls as evidence during trials against journalists and bloggers or during interrogations as a scare tactic.100

Meanwhile, exiled dissidents have been targeted by surveillance malware. Citizen Lab research published in March 2015 said Remote Control System (RCS) spyware had been used against two employees of Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT) in November and December 2014. ESAT is a diaspora-run independent satellite television, radio, and online news media outlet, based in Alexandria, Virginia.101 Made by the Italian company Hacking Team, RCS spyware is advertised as “offensive technology” sold exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, and has the ability to steal files and passwords and intercept Skype calls and chats. 102

While Hacking Team has said that the company does not deal with “repressive regimes,”103 the social engineering tactics used to bait the two ESAT employees made it clear that the attack was targeted. Moreover, analysis of the RCS attacks uncovered credible links to the Ethiopian government, with the spyware’s servers registered at an EthioTelecom address under the name “INSA-PC,” referring to the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), the body established in 2011 to preside over the security of the country’s critical communications infrastructure.104 INSA was already known to be using the commercial toolkit FinFisher to target dissidents and supposed national security threats. FinFisher can secretly monitor computers by turning on webcams, record everything a user types with a key logger, and intercept Skype calls.105

Given the high degree of online repression in Ethiopia, political commentators use proxy servers and anonymizing tools to hide their identities when publishing online and to circumvent filtering, though the tools are also subject to blocking (see Blocking and Filtering).

Anonymity is further compromised by strict SIM card registration requirements. Upon purchase of a SIM card through EthioTelecom or an authorized reseller, individuals must provide their full name, address, government-issued identification number, and a passport-sized photograph. EthioTelecom’s database of SIM registrants enables the government to terminate individuals’ SIM cads and restrict them from registering for new ones. Internet subscribers are also required to register their personal details, including their home address, with the government. During the antigovernment protests in 2016, state-owned ICT provider EthioTelecom announced plans to require mobile phones to be purchased from Ethiopian companies and to create a tracking system for all mobile devices in Ethiopia. Observers believe the plan aims to allow the government to track and identify all communications from subscribers on its network.106

While the government’s stronghold over the Ethiopian ICT sector enables it to proactively monitor users, its access is less direct at cybercafés. For a period following the 2005 elections, cybercafé owners were required to keep a register of their clients, but the requirement has not been enforced since mid-2010.107 Nevertheless, some cybercafé operators have reported that they are required to report “unusual behavior” to security officials, who also visit cybercafés (sometimes in plainclothes) to ask questions about individuals or monitor activity themselves.108

Intimidation and Violence

Government security agents frequently harass and intimidate bloggers, online journalists, and ordinary users for their online activities. Independent bloggers are often summoned by the authorities to be warned against discussing certain topics online, while activists report that they are regularly threatened by state security agents.109 Ethiopian journalists in the diaspora have also been targeted for harassment.110

Amidst escalating antigovernment protests in 2015 and 2016, the authorities reportedly harassed, detained, and abused several people who used their mobile phones to record footage of demonstrations.

Meanwhile, imprisoned bloggers reported being held in degrading conditions and tortured by prison guards seeking to extract false confessions.111 Yonatan Wolde and Bahiru Degu were re-arrested shortly after their acquittal in April 2016 and released the next day, reporting that officials had threatened their lives.112

Technical Attacks

Opposition critics and independent voices face frequent technical attacks, even when based abroad. Independent research has found that Ethiopian authorities have used sophisticated surveillance malware and spyware, such as FinFisher’s FinSpy and Hacking Team’s Remote Control Servers (RCS), to target exiled dissidents.113

There were no reports of technical attacks against human rights defenders or dissidents during the coverage period, though hacktivists launched attacks on government websites, including the Ministry of Defense, as a form of digital protest alongside the largescale Oromo demonstrations.114 Meanwhile, the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) reported that they had foiled at least 155 cyberattacks in 2015. Critics said they used the data to justify cracking down on the internet.115

Notes:

1 International Telecommunication Union, “Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet, 2000-2015,” http://bit.ly/1cblxxY

2 International Telecommunication Union, “Mobile-Cellular Telephone Subscriptions, 2000-2015,” http://bit.ly/1cblxxY

3 Endalk Chala, “When blogging is held hostage of Ethiopia’s telecom policy,” in “GV Advocacy Awards Essays on Internet Censorship from Iran, Venezuela, Ethiopia,” Global Voices (blog), February 3, 2015, http://bit.ly/1OpDvzz

4 Ethiopia – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts, Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd.: June 2014, http://bit.ly/1ji15Rn

5 Misak Workneh, “Ethio Telecom announces new mobile internet packages, tariff revisions,” Addis Fortune, February 23, 2016, http://addisfortune.net/articles/ethio-telecom-announces-new-mobile-internet-packages-tariff-revisions/

6 William Davison’s Facebook post, March 26, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/william.davison.33/posts/10153956834545792?pnref=story

7 Jacob Poushter, “Smartphone Ownership and Internet Usage Continues to Climb in Emerging Economies,” Pew Research Center, February 22, 2016, http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/02/22/smartphone-ownership-and-internet-usage-continues-to-climb-in-emerging-economies/

8 Eskedar Kifle, “Ethio telecom may charge for VoIP apps,” Capital Ethiopia, April 6, 2016, http://mereja.com/news/1149276.

9 Test conducted by Freedom House researcher in March 2016. While the speed test should not be interpreted as a standard speed for the entire EthioTelecom network speeds, the data we gathered from a repeated speed tests over a span of a week from March 16 to March 21, 2016 suggest that Ethiopia’s average speed lags behind the average speed of the region. Nearly same figures were reported by speed-test services such as http://testmy.net and http://www.dospeedtest.com.

10 Akamai, “Average Connection Speed,” map visualization, The State of the Internet, Q1 2016, accessed August 1, 2016, http://akamai.me/1LiS6KD

11 According to tests by Freedom House consultant in 2016.

12 Akamai, “State of the Internet, Q1 2016 Report,” https://goo.gl/TQH7L7.

13 William Davison, “Ethiopia Sees Nationwide Power Cuts While Drought Dries Dams,” Bloomberg, December 1, 2015, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-01/ethiopia-sees-nationwide-power-cuts-while-drought-dries-dams

14 Mengisteab Teshome, “Ethiopia: Power Outage Taken as ‘Business As Usual’ – Residents,” The Ethiopian Herald, September 4, 2015, http://allafrica.com/stories/201509040955.html

15 Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia Locks Down Digital Communications in Wake of #OromoProtests,” Global Voices (blog), July 14, 2016, https://globalvoices.org/2016/07/14/ethiopia-locks-down-digital-communications-in-wake-of-oromoprotests; Moses Karanja et al., “Ethiopia: Internet Shutdown Amidst Recent Protests?” OONI, August 10, 2016, https://ooni.torproject.org/post/ethiopia-internet-shutdown-amidst-recent-protests/

16 Stephanie Busari, “Ethiopia declares state of emergency after months of protests,” CNN, October 11, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/09/africa/ethiopia-oromo-state-emergency/; Endalk Chala, “Ethiopian authorities shut down mobile internet and major social media sites,” Global Voices (blog), October 11, 2016, https://globalvoices.org/2016/10/11/ethiopian-authorities-shut-down-mobile-internet-and-major-social-media-sites/

17 Paul Schemm, “Ethiopia shuts down social media to keep from ‘distracting’ students,” Washington Post, July 13, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/13/ethiopia-shuts-down-social-media-to-keep-from-distracting-students/

18 Darrell M. West, “Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion last year,” Brookings Institute, Center for Technology Innovation, October 2016, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/intenet-shutdowns-v-3.pdf

19 Al Shiferaw, “Connecting Telecentres: An Ethiopian Perspective,” Telecentre Magazine, September 2008, http://bit.ly/1ji348h.

20 “Ethio Telecom to remain monopoly for now,” TeleGeography, June 28, 2013, http://bit.ly/1huyjf7

21 Paul Chapman, “New report explores the Ethiopian – telecoms, mobile and broadband – market insights, statistics and forecasts,” WhatTech, May 1, 2015, http://bit.ly/1L46Awu.

22 “Out of reach,” The Economist, August 24, 2013, http://econ.st/1l1UvJO.

23 “Out of reach,” The Economist.

24 Matthew Dalton, “Telecom Deal by China’s ZTE, Huawei in Ethiopia Faces Criticism,” The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2014, http://on.wsj.com/1LtSCkD.

25 Based on allegations that the Chinese authorities have provided the Ethiopian government with technology that can be used for political repression—such as surveillance cameras and satellite jamming equipment—in the past. See: Addis Neger, “Ethiopia: China Involved in ESAT Jamming,” ECADAF Ethiopian news & Opinion, June 23, 2010, http://bit.ly/1LtSYI9; Gary Sands, “Ethiopia’s Broadband Network – A Chinese Trojan Horse?” Foreign Policy Blogs, Foreign Policy Association, September 6, 2013, http://bit.ly/1FWG8X1.

26 ENA, “Ericsson to take part in telecom expansion in Ethiopia,” Dire Tube, December 18, 2014, http://bit.ly/1PkZfvA.

27 The Embassy of the United Stated, “Doing Business in Ethiopia,” http://1.usa.gov/1LtTExh.

28 World Intellectual Property Organization, “Ethiopia Custom Regulation: No 622/2009,” http://bit.ly/1NveoeB.

29 Mignote Kassa, “Why Ethiopia’s Software Industry Falters,” Addis Fortune 14, no. 700 (September 29, 2013), http://bit.ly/1VJiIWC.

30 “Proclamation No. 281/2002, Telecommunications (Amendment Proclamation,” Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 28, July 2, 2002, http://bit.ly/1snLgsc.

31 Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency, “License Directive for Resale and Telecenter in Telecommunication Services No. 1/2002,” November 8, 2002, accessed October 20, 2014, http://bit.ly/1pUtpWh.

32 Dr. Lishan Adam, “Understanding what is happening in ICT in Ethiopia,” (policy paper, Research ICT Africa, 2012) http://bit.ly/1LDPyJ5.

33 Halefom Abraha, “THE STATE OF CYBERCRIME GOVERNANCE IN ETHIOPIA,” (paper) http://bit.ly/1huzP0S.

34 Rebecca Wanjiku, “Study: Ethiopia only sub-Saharan Africa nation to filter net,” IDG News Service, October 8, 2009, http://bit.ly/1Lbi3s9.

35 “Ayyaantuu website blocked in Ethiopia,” Ayyaantuu News, March 3, 2016, http://www.ayyaantuu.net/ayyaantuu-website-blocked-in-ethiopia/

36 Felix Horne, “Deafening silence from Ethiopia,” Foreign Policy in Focus, April 12, 2016, http://fpif.org/deafening-silence-ethiopia/; Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia locks down digital communications in wake of #OromoProtests,” Global Voices (blog), July 14, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/07/14/ethiopia-locks-down-digital-communications-in-wake-of-oromoprotests/

37 William Davison, “Twitter, WhatsApp Down in Ethiopia Oromia Area After Unrest,” Bloomberg, April 12, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-12/twitter-whatsapp-offline-in-ethiopia-s-oromia-area-after-unrest

38 Nicole Orttung, “Why did Ethiopia block social media,” Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 2016, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/2016/0712/Why-did-Ethiopia-block-social-media?cmpid=gigya-tw

39 According to activists who were able to circumvent the blocks and observe the social media activities of progoverment users.

40 @befeqadu Twitter post, July 17, 2016, https://twitter.com/befeqadu/status/754725025610104833

41 Christabel Ligami, “Defying censorship, hunger stories emerge from Ethiopia,” Equal Times, April 29, 2016, http://www.equaltimes.org/defying-censorship-hunger-stories?lang=en#.WBJZxMmFs6E; “Ethiopian police detain journalists reporting on drought, escort them back to capital,” Committee to Protect Journalists, August 17, 2016, https://cpj.org/2016/08/ethiopian-police-detain-journalists-reporting-on-d.php

42 Test conducted by an anonymous researcher contracted by Freedom House, March 2015. During the test, some websites opened at the first attempt but were inaccessible when refreshed.

43 @AtnafB Twitter post, July 17, 2016, https://twitter.com/AtnafB/status/754711725967024131

44 Mohammed Ademo, Twitter post, July 25, 2012, 1:08 p.m., https://twitter.com/OPride/status/228159700489879552.

46 Ory Okolloh Mwangi, Twitter post, November 6, 2013, 9:20 a.m., https://twitter.com/kenyanpundit/status/398077421926514688.

47 Daniel Berhane, “Ethiopia’s web filtering: advanced technology, hypocritical criticisms, bleeding constitution,” Horns Affairs, January 16, 2011, http://bit.ly/1jTyrH1

48 “Tor and Orbot not working in Ethiopia,” Tor Stack Exchange, message board, April 12, 2016,

http://tor.stackexchange.com/questions/10148/tor-and-orbot-not-working-in-ethiopia; “Ethiopia Introduces Deep Packet Inspection,” Tor (blog), May 31, 2012, http://bit.ly/1A0YRdc; Warwick Ashford, “Ethiopian government blocks Tor network online anonymity,” Computer Weekly, June 28, 2012, http://bit.ly/1LDQ5L2.

49 Ismail Akwei, “Ethiopia blocks social media to prevent university exam leakage,” Africa News, July 10, 2016, http://www.africanews.com/2016/07/10/ethiopia-blocks-social-media-to-prevent-university-exam-leakage/

50 Endalk Chala, “Defending against overreaching surveillance in Ethiopia: Surveillance Self-Defense now availabile in Amharic,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, October 1, 2015, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/09/defending-against-overreaching-surveillance-ethiopia-surveillance-self-defense-n-0

51 A 2014 report from Human Rights Watch also noted that the term “aljazeera” was unsearchable on Google while the news site was blocked from August 2012 to mid-March 2013. According to HRW research, the keywords “OLF” and “ONLF” (acronyms of Ethiopian opposition groups) are not searchable on the unencrypted version of Google (http://) and other popular search engines. Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 25, 2014, 56, 58,http://bit.ly/1Nviu6r.

52 Interview with individuals working in the telecom sector, as well as a test conducted by a Freedom House consultant who found it was not possible for an ordinary user to send out a bulk text message.

53 Reporters prevented from reporting on the trial of Zone9 Bloggers. See, Trial Tracker Blog, http://trialtrackerblog.org/home/ .

54 Kevin Mwanza, “Is Ethiopia restricting access to social media in Oromia region?” Afk Insider, April 13, 2016, http://afkinsider.com/123180/ethiopia-restricting-access-social-media-oromia-region/

55 Exemptions are made for foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin. See, Abrham Yohannes, “Advertisement Proclamation No. 759/2012,” Ethiopian Legal Brief (blog), September 27, 2012, http://bit.ly/1LDQf5c.

56 “Proclamation No. 686/2010 Commercial Registration and Business Licensing,” Federal Negarit Gazeta, July 24, 2010, http://bit.ly/1P3PoLy; World Bank Group, Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency, Economy Profile 2015, Ethiopia, 2014, http://bit.ly/1L49tO6.

57 Chala, “When blogging is held hostage of Ethiopia’s telecom policy.”

58 “Ethiopia Trains Bloggers to attack its opposition,” ECADF Ethiopian News & Opinions, June 7, 2014, http://bit.ly/1QemZjl.

59 The term “Koka” is a blend of two words: Kotatam and cadre. Kotatam is a contemptuous Amharic word used to imply that someone is a sellout who does not have a respect for himself or herself.

60 Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia protest videos show state brutality, despite tech barriers,” Global Voices (blog), January 6, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/01/06/ethiopia-protest-videos-show-state-brutality-despite-tech-barriers/

61 Iginio Gagliardone et al., “Mechachal: Online debates and elections in Ethiopia. Report One: A preliminary assessment of online debates in Ethiopia,” working paper, October 2, 2015, http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2016-06-23-mapping-online-hate-speech

62 Markos Lemma, “Disconnected Ethiopian Netizens,” Digital Development Debates (blog),November 2012,  http://bit.ly/1Ml9Nu3.

63 Jacey Fortin, “The ugly side of Ethiopia’s economic boom,” Foreign Policy, March 23, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/23/no-one-feels-like-they-have-any-right-to-speak-at-all-ethiopia-oromo-protests/

64 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1995), art. 26 and 29, accessed, August 24, 2010, http://www.ethiopar.net/constitution.

65 Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation No. 590/2008, Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 64, December 4, 2008.

66 Article 19, The Legal Framework for Freedom of Expression in Ethiopia, accessed September 10, 2014, http://bit.ly/1Pl0f33.

67 Criminal Code, art. 613, http://bit.ly/1OpHE6F.

68 Article 19, “Ethiopia: Proclamation on Telecom Fraud Offences,”legal analysis, August 6, 2012, http://bit.ly/1Lbonjm.

69 “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009,” Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 57, August 28, 2009.

70 The government first instituted the ban on VoIP in 2002 after it gained popularity as a less expensive means of communication and began draining revenue from the traditional telephone business belonging to the state-owned EthioTelecom. In response to widespread criticisms, the government claimed that VoIP applications such as Skype would not be considered under the new law, though the proclamation’s language still enables the authorities to interpret it broadly at whim.

71 “Ethiopia Computer Crime Proclamation Text Draft,” Addis Insight, May 9, 2016, http://www.addisinsight.com/2016/05/09/ethiopia-computer-crime-proclamation-text-draft/

72 Kimberly Carlson, “Ethiopia’s new Cybercrime Law allows for more efficient and systematic prosecution of online speech,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 9, 2016, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/06/ethiopias-new-cybercrime-law-allows-more-efficient-and-systematic-prosecution-online; Tinishu Soloman, “New Ethiopian law targets online crime,” The Africa Report, June 9, 2016, http://www.theafricareport.com/East-Horn-Africa/new-ethiopian-law-targets-online-crime.html

74 Article 13, “Crimes against Liberty and Reputation of Persons,” Computer Crime Proclamation.

75 Article 15, “Dissemination of Spam,” Computer Crime Proclamation,

76 “Seven things banned under Ethiopia’s state of emergency,” BBC News, October 17, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37679165

77 “Social media blackout in Ethiopia,” Jacarandafm, October 17, 2016, https://www.jacarandafm.com/news-sport/news/social-media-blackout-in-ethiopia/

78 “Six members of Zone Nine, group of bloggers and activists are arrested,” [in Amharic] Zone9 (blog), April 25, 2014, http://bit.ly/1VJn6ow.

79“Federal High Court Lideta Criminal Bench court, Addis Ababa,” http://1drv.ms/1OqAjlC.

80 Endalk Chala, “What You Need to Know About Ethiopia v. Zone9 Bloggers: Verdict Expected July 20,” Global Voices (blog), July 17, 2015, http://bit.ly/1jTDO9b.

81 Ellery Roberts Biddle, Endalk Chala, Guardian Africa network, “One year on, jailed Ethiopian bloggers are still awaiting trial,” The Guardian, April 24, 2015, http://gu.com/p/47ktv/stw; “Nine Journalists and Bloggers Still Held Arbitrarily,” Reporters Without Borders, “Nine Journalists and Bloggers Still Held Arbitrarily,” August 21, 2014, http://bit.ly/1P3TW4I.

82 Committee to Protect Journalists, “In Ethiopia, Zone 9 bloggers acquitted of terrorism charges,” news statement, October 16, 2015, https://www.cpj.org/2015/10/in-ethiopia-zone-9-bloggers-acquitted-of-terrorism.php.

83 Gregory Warner, “Freed from prison, Ethiopian bloggers still can’t leave the country,” NPR, May 31, 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/05/31/480100349/freed-from-prison-ethiopian-bloggers-still-cant-leave-the-country

84 “Netizen Report: Ethiopia’s Zone9 Bloggers Go Back to Court,” Global Voices (blog), March 30, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/03/30/netizen-report-ethiopias-zone9-bloggers-go-back-to-court/

85 “Netizen Report: As Protests Rage in Ethiopia, Zone9 Bloggers Return to Court,” Global Voices (blog), October 21, 2016, https://globalvoices.org/2016/10/21/netizen-report-as-protests-rage-in-ethiopia-zone9-bloggers-return-to-court/

86 “Ethiopia arrests second journalist in a week, summons Zone9 bloggers,” Committee to Protect Journalists, press release, December 27, 2015, https://www.cpj.org/2015/12/ethiopia-arrests-second-journalist-in-a-week-summo.php

87 “Getachew Shiferaw – The Price of Freedom of Expression in Ethiopia,” Ethiopian Human Rights Project, May 3, 2016, http://ehrp.org/getachew-shiferaw-the-price-of-freedom-of-expression-in-ethiopia/

88 Salem Soloman, “Ethiopia’s Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?” VOA News, May 31, 2016, http://www.voanews.com/a/ethiopia-anti-terrorism-law-security-silencing-dissent/3356633.html

89 “Ethiopia: Release opposition politician held for Facebook posts,” Amnesty International, press release, May 6, 2016, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/05/ethiopia-release-opposition-politician-held-for-facebook-posts/; “Facebook post leads to serious charges for Ethiopian politician,” Enca, May 6, 2016, https://www.enca.com/africa/facebook-post-leads-to-serious-charges-for-ethiopian-politician

90 @befeqadu Twitter post, April 12, 2016, https://twitter.com/befeqadu/status/719963259911188480/photo/1

91 Tedla D. Tekle, “Ethiopian blogger and activist sentences to five years and four months,” Global Voices (blog), May 16, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/05/16/ethiopian-blogger-and-activist-sentenced-to-five-years-and-four-months/

92 Tedla D. Tekle, “’I was forced to drink my own urine,’: ‘Freedom’ for netizen after 647 days locked up, but not for all,” Global Voices (blog), May 2, 2016, https://globalvoices.org/2016/05/02/i-was-forced-to-drink-my-own-urine-freedom-after-647-days-locked-up-but-not-for-all/

93 “Co-blogger Zelalem Workagegnehu’s appeal heard, appointed to tomorrow,” De Birhan (blog), July 20, 2016, http://debirhan.com/?p=10035

94 “Oromo protests: Ethiopia arrests blogger Seyoum Teshome,” Al Jazeera, October 5, 2016,

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/oromo-protests-ethiopia-arrests-blogger-seyoum-teshome-161005071925586.html

95 Such trumped-up charges were based on an online column Nega had published criticizing the government’s use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to silence political dissent and calling for greater political freedom in Ethiopia. Nega is also the 2011 recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.“That Bravest and Most Admirable of Writers: PEN Salutes Eskinder Nega,” PEN American Center (blog), April 13, 2012, http://bit.ly/1Lm89Y7; See also, Markos Lemma, “Ethiopia: Online Reactions to Prison Sentence for Dissident Blogger,” Global Voices, July 15, 2012, http://bit.ly/1OpKaKf; Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia: Freedom of Expression in Jeopardy,” Global Voices Advocacy, February 3, 2012, http://bit.ly/1jfIEO3.

96 Article 23, “Retention of Computer Data” and Article 24, “Real-time Collection of Computer Data,” http://hornaffairs.com/en/2016/05/09/ethiopia-computer-crime-proclamation/

97 Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” 62.

98 Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” 67.

99 Ibid, 52.

100 Committee to Protect Journalists, “Ethiopian Blogger, Journalists Convicted of Terrorism,” January 19, 2012, http://cpj.org/x/47b9.

101 Bill Marczak et al., Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware, Citizen Lab, March 9, 2015, http://bit.ly/1Ryogmr.

102 Hacking Team,“Customer Policy,” accessed February 13, 2014, http://hackingteam.it/index.php/customer-policy.

103  Declan McCullagh, “Meet the ‘Corporate Enemies of the Internet’ for 2013,” CNET, March 11, 2013, accessed February 13, 2014, http://cnet.co/1fo6jJZ.

104 Marczak et al., Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware.

105 Fahmida Y. Rashid, “FinFisher ‘Lawful Interception’ Spyware Found in Ten Countries, Including the U.S.,” Security Week, August 8, 2012, http://bit.ly/1WRPuap.

106 Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia Locks Down Digital Communications in Wake of #OromoProtests.”

107 Groum Abate, “Internet Cafes Start Registering Users,” The Capital republished Nazret (blog), December 27, 2006, http://bit.ly/1Lm98aX.

108 Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” 67.

109 SIMEGNISH (LILY) MENGESHA, “CRAWLING TO DEATH OF EXPRESSION – RESTRICTED ONLINE MEDIA IN ETHIOPIA,” Center for International Media Assistance (blog), April 8, 2015, http://bit.ly/1IbxFie.

110 “ክንፉ አሰፋ በስለላ ከሆላንድ የተባረረው የጋዜጠኛውን አንገት እቆርጣለሁ አለ,” ECADAF Ethiopian News & Opinion, April 12, 2015, http://ecadforum.com/Amharic/archives/14790/.

111 Tedla D. Tekle, “’I was forced to drink my own urine,’: ‘Freedom’ for netizen after 647 days locked up, but not for all.”

112 Tedla D. Tekle, “’I was forced to drink my own urine,’: ‘Freedom’ for netizen after 647 days locked up, but not for all.”

113 Marczak et al., Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware.

114 Kinfemicheal Yilma, “Hacktivism: A New Front of Dissent, Regulation,” Addis Fortune, February 14, 2016,

http://addisfortune.net/columns/hacktivism-a-new-front-of-dissent-regulation/

115 “Ethiopia: The cyber attack that probably never was,” Zehabesha, July 13, 2016,http://www.zehabesha.com/ethiopia-the-cyber-attack-that-probably-never-was/

Violence Against Free Media and Knowledge Dissemination in Ethiopia: An Analysis of the Mechanisms of Restrictions on Information Flow January 3, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistto-have-facebook-is-illegal-in-ethiopiaViber, twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp Are strictly forbidden in Fascist regime (TPLF) Ethiopia


 

Violence Against Free Media and Knowledge Dissemination in Ethiopia: An Analysis of the Mechanisms of Restrictions on Information Flow

By Habtamu Dugo, Visiting Professor of Communications,
University of the District of Columbia

hab.dugo@gmail.com


Abstract

This article examines multiple mechanisms the Ethiopian state has been using to implement information blackout throughout the country in order to distort, misrepresent, hide and deny massive human rights infractions perpetrated by the military against citizens demanding self-government, basic rights and justice across Oromia state and Ethiopia. The data for this research were obtained through multiple research approaches, which included reviewing three relevant Ethiopian laws that justify information blackout; reviewing reports by human rights organizations; reviewing news stories on the topic in multiple languages; and reviewing audio-visual materials containing press releases from Ethiopian authorities. The study finds that the Ethiopian government has used a mixture of mechanisms to restrict the free flow of information by: introducing a slew of draconian proclamations, resorting to suppressing and removing communications applications and hardware and engaging in robust local and global misinformation and denial campaigns in times of unprecedented domestic political upheavals.

Key words: press freedom, freedom of speech, media control, social media control, information blackout, state-led violence, Oromo, Ethiopia, East Africa, Horn of Africa.

Introduction

In the summer of 2014 Ethiopian government police, security forces and commando units shot live ammunitions into crowds of peaceful protesters killing at least 100 (OP, 2014). The protesters were opposed to a city planning scheme known as the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan (IDMP). By the time this plan was released, Addis Ababa’s expansion had already displaced 150, 000 families of Oromo farmers and was set to displace millions more across Oromia (Legesse, 2014).

Demonstrators demanded that the IDMP be halted immediately and the Oromo people’s constitutional right to self-rule be respected. The Ethiopian government did not respond to the popular demands. Instead, authorities promised massive violence against civilians in an attempt to continue the implementation of the draconian plan (Biyyaa, 2014), characterized by the Oromo as “master killer.”

In a compressive study released in 2014, Amnesty International (2014) reported that between 2011 and 2015, “at least 5000 Oromos have been arrested based on their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government.” The popular understanding of the IDRP among the Oromo is that it will continue to uproot millions of Oromo farmers from their land and lead to the eventual splitting of Oromia into two halves—the east and the west. This will separate the Oromo people who share the same language, identity and a regional state from each other. Even families would be separated as they have been in North and South Korea.

None of the perpetrators of the April and May 2014 massacres were brought to justice nor was there an independent investigation into the mass killings by government security. Instead,some government officials such as Abay Tsehaye, the former Minister of Federal Affairs, threatened to take more actions against anyone who is opposed to the plan (OMN, 2014).

Oromia-wide protests against the IDMP recurred in mid-November 2015 in small town west of the capital city “when the government transferred the ownership of a school playground and a stadium to private investors, in addition to clearing the Chilimo natural forest to also make way for investors,” (AI, 2015). In just over a few weeks, the protests spread to all parts of Oromia, involving people from all walks of life. The government responded with lethal force which resulted in the death of more than 200 people, including children, women and the elderly (HRLHA, 2015). Thousands of Oromos were wholesale labeled as “terrorists”, giving a blank check to government officials and commanders of the security forces to act with impunity. Hundreds were killed, thousands maimed and several thousand imprisoned. The government placed a ban on domestic and international human rights organizations, media, journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists to cover up the use of lethal force to suppress the protests and the staggering number of casualties.

Human Rights Watch noted the government’s tight chokehold on information as follows: “Ethiopia’s pervasive restrictions on independent civil society and media mean that very little information is coming from affected areas although social media are filled with photos and videos of the protests,” (HRW, 2016). This has left the global community in the dark about the real magnitude of the crimes security forces have committed. This paper analyzes the different facets of the Ethiopian government’s restrictions on information flow focusing on actions taken during the Oromo protests of 2015-16.

I contend that the government’s endeavors to create an information blackout was designed to avoid responsibility for the mass killings, maiming, detentions, rape and other crimes that the federal police, the Agazi Special Forces, and other state security units have committed against unarmed Oromo civilians. The study also reveals that the government has used a number of ‘legal’ and coercive strategies and tactics to exercise monopolistic control over information.

Disinformation

One of the ways in which the government uses to conceal its atrocities is the state-controlled media and crackdown on alternative media. With near monopoly on media outlets in the country, top government officials appear on state-controlled television (formerly ETV) and make statements that cannot stand to simply scrutiny. On December 15, 2015, for instance, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn threatened to take “merciless actions” against Oromo protestors whom he labeled “terrorists,” “anti-peace forces” and “destabilizing “forces”. He indicated that the government’s Anti-Terror Task Force will take swift measures to restore order. While the security forces have indeed carried out the orders, the purpose of the threats was to cow people into submission. In other words, the media is used to carry out disinformation battles that parallel the real actions.

violence-against-free-media-and-knowledge-click-here-to-read-in-pdf

Oromia: OBS TV Journalist Abdi Gada arrested for broadcasting Oromo cultural news November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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 Odaa OromoooromianeconomistHRW Media

OBS TV Journalist Abdi Gada arrested for broadcasting Oromo cultural news

 

Oromo Broadcast Service (OBS) TV journalist Abdi Gada  arrested in Ethiopia. OBS TV is not even a news media, it is rather a history or discovery news channel. The TV never got involved into #OromoProtests. The broadcasting is based on images  from Oromo cultural ceremonies, Oromo history with elders interviews, etc


OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service Television journalist Abdi Gada went missing in Adama, Oromia (Ethiopia) last Wednesday. His whereabouts is not known yet.

An Oromo, Ethiopian journalist missed in Adama/Gazexeessaa Abdii Gadaa achi buuteen dhabame.

 abdii-gadaa
Journalist Abdi Gada

An Oromo, Ethiopian journalist is missing in Adama. OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service Television journalist Abdi Gada went missing in Adama, Ethiopia last Wednesday. His whereabouts is not known yet. His family, friends and colleagues have been looking for him in all areas of detainees and prisoners including Ma’ikelawi, and Zeway (Batu). Many of his family, friends and colleagues believe that Journalist Abdi Gada was kidnapped by Ethiopian security forces because thousands of Oromo people are missing and have been arrested in Ethiopia. Journalist Abdi Gada was one among 20 Oromo (Ethiopian) journalists who were dismissed from the Oromia Radio and Television Organization in 2014, in a single day.——————————-


Gaazeexeessaan  TV OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service, AbdiGadaaRoobiidarbiteAdaamattihojiidhaquufakkamanaabahettiachibuuteenisaadhabameera.  Gaazexeessaankun, bara 2014 keessagaazexeessitootaOromoo 17 dhaabbataRaadiyoo fi TV Oromiyaakeessaasababatokkomalee ari’aman keessaa tokkoakka ta’eefi, saaniinbooda TV OBS keessa kan hojjataajiruudha.

Namoonni itti dhiheennaan gaazexeessaa Abdii Gadaa beekanu akka jedhanitti, “haaluma yeroo ammaa Oromoo irratti raawwamaa jirutti isarrattille raawwatame jennee shakkina malee, Abdiin waan balleesseefi yakki inni hojjate hin jiruu; diina biraa itti shakkinulle hin qabnu” jechuun himan. Gabaasa guutuuf oduu OMN 14.11.2016 caqasaa.

OMN: Oduu Sad 14, 2016

Ethiopia: Access Now urges companies not to sell technology used in suppressing human rights October 24, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

to-have-facebook-is-illegal-in-ethiopiaun-copyViber, twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp Are strictly forbidden in Fascist regime (TPLF) Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Access Now urges companies not to sell technology used in suppressing human rights

Business & Human Rights Resource Center, 22 October 2016


A recent joint report by the Open Observatory for Network Interference and the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law has concluded that there is sufficient evidence of recent internet shutdowns in Ethiopia, which pose restrictions on demonstrations and human rights generally. Consequently, Access Now has urged technology companies not to sell software used in supressing human rights.


Ethiopia: Access Now urges companies to “desist from selling or servicing technology” used to “infringe on human rights”

Author: Access Now (USA)

“What’s happening in Ethiopia and how can we protect human rights?”

Ethiopia has issued a six-month state of emergency in the country following months of citizen protests. The state of emergency comes in an environment of increasing repression. Government forces have killed more than 500 people since November 2015and authorities have already shut down access to social media in the Oromia region four times this year…Internet shutdowns do not restore order. They hamper journalism, obscure the truth of what is happening on the ground, and stop people from getting the information they need to keep safe.

…In the U.N. statement last week, special rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Dr. Agnes Callamard said, “We are outraged at the alarming allegations of mass killings, thousands of injuries, tens of thousands of arrests and hundreds of enforced disappearances…We are also extremely concerned by numerous reports that those arrested had faced torture and ill-treatment in military detention centres.”…

[We urge] companies selling products or services in Ethiopia] to d]esist from selling or servicing technology that is used to infringe on human rights in the country. This includes technology used to surveil citizens or technology used to disrupt access to information online. Some of the companies with a record of bad practices in Ethiopia include Hacking Team and Gamma International.

Read the full post here

Report says data “provides strong indicators” internet was shut down during protests

Author: Moses Karanja (CIPIT), Maria Xynou & Arturo Filastò, in Open Observatory of Network Interference’s blog

“Ethiopia: Internet Shutdown Amidst Recent Protests?”

Nearly 100 deaths and thousands of arrests have been reported in Ethiopia over the last days, as part of protests against the marginalization and persecution of the Oromos and Amharas, Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups…Last weekend, the internet was reportedlyshut down in the country.

In an attempt to understand whether the internet was in fact shut down, we looked at some public sources of data that contain information about internet traffic. Such data provides strong indicators that the internet was most likely shut down during the Ethiopian protests last weekend, though it remains unclear if this occurred in all regions and/or on all types of networks across the country…

Internet shutdowns effectively pose restrictions on demonstrations and on human rights generally. In the recent case of Ethiopia, shutting down the internet in the middle of intense protests likely not only had an effect on the mobilization and coordination of protesters, but also on the communication between families and friends of victims. This also likely had an effect on journalists reporting on the protests in real-time on the ground, if they were using networks that were blocked.

 

Read the full post here

Internet shutdown could cost Ethiopia’s booming economy millions of dollars — Quartz October 19, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistun-copy

to-have-facebook-is-illegal-in-ethiopia

“This is a typical textbook example of repression. You shut down media, you arrest dissidents and try to use propaganda to co-opt,” Chala told Quartz.

“Internet shutdowns do not restore order,” Ephraim Percy Kenyanito, the sub-Saharan Africa policy analyst at Access Now recently wrote. “They hamper journalism, obscure the truth or what is happening on the ground, and stop people from getting the information they need to keep safe.”

To a large extent, the government might be succeeding in muffling both the direct flow or the volume of information coming out of the country, Chala says. “But I am not sure if they will stop the movement [of protest] that is already out of their control,” he said.


The internet shutdown in Ethiopia will drain millions of dollars from the economy, besides undermining citizens’ rights to impart and seek information, observers of the current state of emergency say. Mobile internet remains down across the country since the government announced a six-month, nationwide emergency in early October. The government also this week banned the…

via Internet shutdown could cost Ethiopia’s booming economy millions of dollars — Quartz

Oromia: Viber, twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp Are strictly forbidden in Fascist regime (TPLF/ EPRDF) Ethiopia July 10, 2016

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Viber, twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp Are strictly forbidden in Fascist regime (TPLF) Ethiopia

Viber, twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp Are strictly forbidden in Fascist regime (TPLF) Ethiopia


ERGAA BAAY’EE BARBAACHIFTUU


Akkuma beekamu Wayyaaneen WhatsApp, Viber, facebook fi Google Play bakka appilikeeshina irraa download godhatan dabalee cuftee jirti. Appilikeeshina cufaman kana banachuuf VPN barbaachisa, garuu Google Play bakka appilikeeshina irraa download godhatan waan cufaniif VPN download godhachuun rakkisaa tahullee furmaata tokko argadheen jira. Innis warra android fayyadamaniif appilikeeshina VPN ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.freevpnintouch) 100% wantoota ugguraman banuu isaa akka banuu danda’u mirkanaa’e jira. Sababa kanaaf VPN kana APK isaa dropbox irra kaayee sududaan akka buufattan haala isinii mijeessee jira. Yeroo ammaa kana warri biyya keessa jiran hedduun ergaa kana arguu waan hin dandeenyeef, warri ergaa kana argitan hundi gama dandeessaniin email tahee bifa wal qunnamtii isinii mijaaye kamiinuu app kana akka ergitaniifii buufatan gargaatan dirqama lammiiti.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/orv8nsk99w7rjma/Free%20VPN%20Proxy%20by%20Betternet_v3.5.6_apkpure.com.apk?dl=0

warri Google Play banachuu dandeessan link isaa:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.freevpnintouch

Oromiyaa keessatti Facebook akka cufame beekameera. Kun jiruu gadi badii wayyaaneen dalagaa jirtudha. Warri Psiphon buufachuu dandeessan itti  fayyadamuun FB itti ooluu dandeessu.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.psiphon3

 

 

 


Social Progress Index 2016: Ethiopia continue to make one of the worst performers

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/social-progress-index-2016-ethiopia-continue-to-make-one-of-the-worst-performers/

Press Release:The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) is concerned about an escalation of the threat to press freedom in Ethiopia March 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa.
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Odaa OromooThe Foreign Correspondents' Association of East Africa (FCAEA)

Press Release: Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA)


 

The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) is concerned about an escalation of the threat to press freedom in Ethiopia after the recent 24-hour detention of two accredited journalists and their translator.

Journalists in Ethiopia have for years faced obstacles to press freedom. Now, two ongoing news events — a drought in the Ethiopia’s eastern regions, and protests across the central Oromia region — have called for increased travel outside of the capital Addis Ababa, which has become difficult due to a high security presence.

Arbitrary detentions, which typically last a few hours, were already a common impediment for accredited journalists in Ethiopia. But the recent 24-hour detention marks a worrying escalation.

William Davison, a correspondent for Bloomberg in Ethiopia; freelance journalist Jacey Fortin; and their translator were traveling in eastern Ethiopia on March 3rd when they were detained on the main road near Awash town, Afar region, at 12:40 p.m. by the Federal Police. Their phones and identification cards were taken during the arrest.

The three were escorted by Federal Police on a four-hour drive back to Addis Ababa. They were then briefly taken to an office of the security services, held overnight at a police station jail, and released around noon on March 4th. The authorities never offered a reason for the detention.

“Over the last five years, I have been detained multiple times in Ethiopia. I think reporting on certain topics has now become too risky because of the threat of detainment,” said Davison. “Until the government makes a genuine commitment to media freedom, it will be impossible for journalists to report safely with accuracy and integrity.”

The FCAEA is equally concerned about the dangers faced by translators, fixers and local journalists, who have no support from foreign embassies or international news organizations.

“Every time I’ve been detained while working in Ethiopia, I’ve felt that my translator has been most at risk,” said Fortin. “They are often asked to produce a media license like mine, despite the fact that such documentation is not available to translators.”

These threats are making reporting in Ethiopia increasingly difficult. We hope that dialogue with the relevant government agencies, including the security services, can begin to resolve the problem.

 



 

In Ethiopia, a Mix of Regulations and Repression Silence Independent Voices January 30, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooEthiopia's scores in freedom in the world 2016, freedom House World Report, January 2016.
Journalist Fikadu Mirkana, Oromia TV and Radio

Two of the Zone 9 Bloggers at Irreecha in bishooftu, after their release from jail

(Resurgent Dictatorship) — After a tense year marked by widely-criticized elections in which Ethiopia’s ruling party won 100 percent of parliamentary seats, 2015 concluded with yet more repression in the East African nation. During the last weeks of December, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported the arrests of two journalists, while five Zone 9 bloggers who had been acquitted of terrorism charges in October were summoned back to court as state prosecutors appealed their earlier acquittal.

These detentions occurred amid widespread protests in Oromia state, Ethiopia’s largest region. Human Rights Watch reported that since the protests began in mid-November 2015, police and security forces had killed 140 protesters and wounded many others, while hundreds of demonstrators and activists have been jailed; Ethiopian government officials have only publicly acknowledged five deaths.

The trigger for this recent crisis was the Integrated Regional Development Plan for Addis Ababa. Commonly known as “The Addis Ababa Master Plan,” its implementation would have expanded the capital city into parts of the neighboring Oromia region, potentially displacing a large number of local farmers, threatening their constitutionally-protected right to livelihood, and eroding local authority. One Ethiopia analyst, Tsegaye R. Ararssa, noted that the Master Plan violated Articles 39 and 105(2) of Ethiopia’s Constitution, which authorize alterations to state boundaries only by a referendum of self-determination or a constitutional amendment. Although the government recently decided to scrap the Master Plan, the decision was made primarily to silence the protests and falls short of addressing the protestors’ underlying concerns about the lack of good governance, access to information, and freedom of expression in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government prides itself on having one of the world’s fastest growing economies (the International Monetary Fund ranks the country among the top five globally). But the authorities often promote growth at the expense of citizens’ basic human rights, and many citizens feel that they have not benefitted from the country’s economic growth. The United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index ranks Ethiopia 174 out of 187 countries, and despite the government’s growth plans, 29 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives below its national poverty line.

The recent Oromia protests are a clear indication of what happens when the population feels that development is being imposed. If the government genuinely believes in inclusive economic growth, its plans would benefit from better communication with the people. Instead, the authorities have closed most venues for two-way communication and use state media to control media narratives and disseminate propaganda about their development plans.

In my January 2016 Journal of Democracy article, I describe how Ethiopia’s authorities have used legal and economic methods to suppress civil society and independent media. Ethiopia’s criminal code and press law, which have long been highly restrictive, have tightened significantly in the years since Ethiopia’s 2005 general elections, when mass protests erupted over vote-rigging allegations. Media repression became even more organized and systematic in 2009 after Ethiopia adopted the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). Ostensibly intended to counter security threats, since its adoption the ATP has only ever been used to bring charges against political activists and members of independent media.

The Civil Society Proclamation (CSP), adopted in 2009 around the same time as the ATP, has also curtailed the efforts of most human rights organizations. Restrictions on foreign funding and regulations which limit how much a civil society organization (CSO) can dedicate toward its administrative and operations costs make it extremely difficult for CSOs to survive. According to onestudy, the number of federally-registered local and international CSOs in Ethiopia dropped by 45 percent (from 3,800 to 2,059) between 2009 and 2011. Ethiopia’s Charities and Societies Agency (CSA) claimed in 2014 that 3,174 CSOs were registered in Ethiopia, but a 2014 study by the joint European Union’s Civil Society Fund (EU-CSF II) found that of the total number of CSOs registered by Ethiopia’s Civil Society Agency, only 870 were actually operational. USAID’s 2014 CSO Sustainability Index for Sub-Saharan Africa noted that the impact of CSOs in Ethiopia is limited by national policies, funding restrictions, and a lack of government interest.

As a result of policies like these, platforms which normally serve to facilitate communication and feedback between government and citizens, such as media and civil society organizations, have been silenced by heavy government censorship and the criminalization of dissent. The lack of accountable communication channels makes the population feel alienated from the government, and the only remaining avenue for the public to express its concerns—peaceful demonstration—typically results in a harsh crackdown, as the last few months have shown.  In December, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn appeared on state television to defend the government’s use of physical repression against Oromia protestors, saying the government will take “merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area.”

These remarks betray the authorities’ insecurity. The increased intensity of repression against independent media, associations, and civil society organizations reflect a government that feels threatened by independent voices. Like most authoritarian regimes, Ethiopia’s government worries that the more informed and connected the people are, the more empowered they will be to hold the government to account. In other words, Ethiopia’s attempt to gag the media and choke civil society is not a sign of the government’s strength, but rather of its weakness.

Simegnish “Lily” Mengesha is a visiting fellow and former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. A seasoned journalist, media consultant, and translator, she previously served as director of the Ethiopian Environment Journalists Association.

The views expressed in this post represent the opinions and analysis of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for Democracy or its staff.

http://www.resurgentdictatorship.org/in-ethiopia-a-mix-of-regulations-and-repression-silence-independent-voices/

http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/JoD-Jan-2016-Ethiopia-Silencing-Dissent-Mengesha.pdf

 

JoD-Jan-2016-Ethiopia-Silencing-Dissent-Mengesha

Hacking Team boss: we sold to Ethiopia but ‘we’re the good guys’ July 14, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Censorship.
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???????????Hacking team hacked1Hacking team hacked

The Guardian

Hacking Team boss: we sold to Ethiopia but ‘we’re the good guys’

Attack that revealed data exposing deals with dictatorships was on a ‘governmental level’ and ‘planned for months’, says David Vincenzetti in first statement

locked laptop
Hacking Team founder speaks out about attacks that revealed company deals with dictatorships. Photograph: LJSphotography / Alamy/Alamy

The founder of cybersecurity firm Hacking Team has finally spoken out over the attack that saw 400GB of its data dumped on the internet, insisting: “We’re the good guys”.

David Vincenzetti, 47, founder of the Milan-based company, told Italian newspaper La Stampa that the cyber attack – which saw the code for companies hacking tools and its email archive published online – was not enabled by poor security or weak passwords and that it could have only been an organisation “at the governmental level”.

Vincenzetti said: “This is not an impromptu initiative: the attack was planned for months, with significant resources, the extraction of data took a long time.” But he did not explain how Hacking Team apparently failed to notice the attack while it was taking place.

Hacking Team hack casts spotlight on murky world of state surveillance

In response to concerns that Hacking Team supplied tools to repressive states which could be used to hack into and spy on almost anyone, Vincenzetti said: “We did [sell tools to Libya] when suddenly it seemed that the Libyans had become our best friends.” He also admitted providing tools to Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco and Sudan, as exposed by the company’s email archive, though denied dealing with Syria.

But Vincenzetti said: “The geopolitical changes rapidly, and sometimes situations evolve. But we do not trade in weapons, we do not sell guns that can be used for years.” He said that without regular updates its tools are rapidly blocked by cyber security countermeasures.

In the case of the Ethiopian government, which used Hacking Team tools to spy on journalists and activists, Vincenzetti said: “We’re the good guys … when we heard that Galileo had been used to spy on a journalist in opposition of the government, we asked about this, and finally decided to stop supplying them in 2014.”

Meanwhile, the impact of the Hacking Team data dump continues to affect wider cubersecurity. A further two vulnerabilities within Adobe’s Flash plugin have been exposed and are actively being exploited as a result of the attack, Adobe has confirmed.

Warning over Adobe Flash vulnerability revealed by Hacking Team leak

Related:-

SALTED HASH-TOP SECURITY NEWS: Hacking Team hacked, attackers claim 400GB in dumped data: An email from a person linked to several domains allegedly tied to the Meles Zenawi Foundation (MZF), Ethiopia’s Prime Minister until his death in 2012, was published as part of the cache of files taken from Hacking Team

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/salted-hash-top-security-news-hacking-team-hacked-attackers-claim-400gb-in-dumped-data-an-email-from-a-person-linked-to-several-domains-allegedly-tied-to-the-meles-zenawi-foundation-mzf-ethiopi/

SALTED HASH-TOP SECURITY NEWS: Hacking Team hacked, attackers claim 400GB in dumped data: An email from a person linked to several domains allegedly tied to the Meles Zenawi Foundation (MZF), Ethiopia’s Prime Minister until his death in 2012, was published as part of the cache of files taken from Hacking Team July 8, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Censorship.
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???????????Enemies of Internet

Documents obtained by hackers from the Italian spyware manufacturer Hacking Team confirm that the company sells its powerful surveillance technology to countries with dubious human rights records.

Internal emails and financial records show that in the past five years, Hacking Team’s Remote Control System software — which can infect a target’s computer or phone from afar and steal files, read emails, take photos and record conversations — has been sold to government agencies in Ethiopia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Azerbaijan and Turkey. An in-depth analysis of those documents byThe Intercept shows Hacking Team’s leadership was, at turns, dismissive of concerns over human rights and privacy; exasperated at the bumbling and technical deficiency of some of its more controversial clients; and explicitly concerned about losing revenue if cut off from such clients.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/07/07/leaked-documents-confirm-hacking-team-sells-spyware-repressive-countries/

An email from a person linked to several domains allegedly tied to the Meles Zenawi Foundation (MZF), Ethiopia’s Prime Minister until his death in 2012, was published Sunday evening as part of the cache of files taken from Hacking Team.

In the email, Biniam Tewolde offers his thanks to Hacking Team for their help in getting a high value target.

hackingteam 9

Around the time the email was sent, which was eight months after the Prime Minister’s death, Tewolde had registered eight different MZF related domains. Given the context of the email and the sudden appearance (and disappearance) of the domains, it’s possible all of them were part of a Phishing campaign to access the target. Who the high value target is, remains unknown.

An invoice leaked with the Hacking Team cache shows that Ethiopia paid $1,000,000 Birr (ETB) for Hacking Team’s Remote Control System, professional services, and communications equipment.

Hacking team hackedHacking team hacked1

Read more at:-

http://www.csoonline.com/article/2943968/data-breach/hacking-team-hacked-attackers-claim-400gb-in-dumped-data.html

Itoophiyaan toora interneetii basaasuuf bara 2012 keessa doolara miliyoona tokko baasuunshii saaxilame.

OMN:Oduu Adol.06,2015 Xalayaan Dhaabbata basaasaa Biyya Xaaliyaanii Magaalaa Miilaanii Ejensii toora oddeeffannoo Itoophiyaaf ergame akka mullisutti, Itoophiyaan toora interneetii basaasuuf bara 2012 doolara miliyoona tokkko kaffalteetti.

Akka madda oduu kanaatti, dhaabbannii basaasaa Interneetii Xaaliyaanii Hacking Team jedhamu, dhaabbata biyyoota adda addaaf meeshaalee Interneetii ittiin basaasan qopheessuu fi tajaajila sanaa kennuu dha.

Bara 2012 Erga Ministirri Muummee Itoophiyaa duraanii du’anii asitti, namni Biniyam Tawalde jedhamu toora interneetii haaraa 8 fi Imeeloota adda addaa maqaa Mallas Zeenaawii Faawundeeshin jedhamu waliin hidhata qabuun hundeesse yookaan immoo bitee jira.

Haa ta’u malee galmeewwan kunnneen banamanii utuu hin turin deebi’anii akka badan waanti taasifamaniif, jalqabuma irra kaasanii kan banamaniif basaasa toora interneetiif deggersa kennuuf akka ta’e nama shakkisiisaa jechuun gabaasni kun dabalee addeesseera .

Namni maqaan isaa eerame kun,ragaa amma argame kanaan akka saaxilametti bara 2013 xalayaa garee basaastootaaf/Hacking Teamiif/ ergeen,kallattii xiyyeeffannaa isaaniin bu’aa guddaa arganneerra jedha.

Haa ta’u malee, qaamni balaa basaasaa Interneetii kanaan miidhamanii fi xiyyeeffaanna Mootummaa sanaa turan eenyufaa akka ta’an hin beekamne.

Kaampnaanii Xaaliyaanii Hacking Team,Mootummoonni fi dhaabbiillee basaasaa akka Lmmiilee isaanii basaasaniif deeggerrssa fi meeshaalee garagaraa dhiheessuun beeakamu kun ofuma isaatii iyyuu basaasamuun faayilonnii fi dataawwan isaa akka hatame gabaafame.

Hatamuun toora interneetii kanaa kan beekame, erga toorri Twitterii dhaabbata kanaa hatame fi maqaan isaa “Hacked Team”. jedhamutti jijirame booda.

Toora interneetii dhaabbatichaa hatame kana irra dokumentonnii dhaabbaticha GB 400 ta’an kanneen biroon hatamaniru.

Hatamuu toora interneetii kanaaf hanga ammatti qamni itti gaafatamummaa fudhate hin jiru.Haa ta’u malee meeshaan qorataa kaamaapaanichaa Da Vinci jedhamu warreen diiina internetii ta’antu hate jedheera.

Dokumeentonni hataman kunneen akka mull’isanitti,maamiltoota kaampaanii Sana fi biyyoota isaan keessatti argaman adda baasee jira.

Haaluma kanaan Itoophiyaa dabalatee biyyonni 35 meshaalee basaasa dhaabbnni kun dhiheesutti akka fayyadaman fi, lammiilee isaanii karaa toora Interneetiitiin akka basaasan beeksisee jira.

Meeshaalee fi tajaajili dhaabbanni kun Mootummotaa fi dhaabbiilee basaasaaf kennu dhimmoota dhuunfaa dhaabbiilee qoratootaa fi Miidiyaalee keessa seenuun miidhaa geesisaa jira.

Dhaabbanni Reporters Without Borders kaampaanii basaasaa Hacking Team kana toora kaampaanota diina Interneetii ittiin jedhe galmeessee bubbuleera.

Dhaabbanni nama hatuu ofii isaatiin nan hatama jedhee yaadee hin beeku kan jedhe gabaasichi,akka ragaa amma argame kanaan faayiloota ,Imeelota dokumantoota adda addaa argatan ifa gochaa jiru.

Akka gabaasa Human Rights Watch tti Dhaabbanni Hacking Team Mootummaan Sudan yuuroo kuma 400 fi kuma 80 dhaabbata kanaaf kennuu isaa kanaan dura kan haale oggaa ta’u, amma garuu ragaa kanaan ifattii saaxilameera.

Dhaabbanni Mootummota Gamtoomanii tibba sana Mootummaan Sudaan dhimma kana akka qulqulleessuuf xalayaan kan gaafate yemmuu ta’u, gocha sana hin raawwannee jechuun Sudaan haaltee turuun ishee ni yaadatama.

Daabbanni Mirga dhala namaaf falmu Human Rights Watch Bitootessaa bara 2015 ibsa baaseen,Mootummaan Itoophiyaa meeshaale basaasa spyware jedhaman biyya alaatii galchuun yaada walabaa lammiilee isaa ukkamsaa jira.

Dhaabbanni qorannoo torontoo maandhefate,Independent researchers jedhamu baatiidhuma sana keessa ibsa baaseen, Mootummaan Itoophiyaa komputera hoojetoota Televishinii Isat Ameerikaa jiru irratti xiyyeeffachuun yaalii dhoksaan cabsuu irratti gaaggeeffameera jedheera.

Gabaasni Miidiyaalee fi Qorannoo Dhaabbata Mirga dhala namaa akka mullisutti, Mootummaan Itoophiyaa seera farra shororkessummaa dahannoo godhachuun Biloogeroota fi gaazexxesitootaa dhimma siyaasaa fi hawwaasaa gabaasan irratti tarkaanfii fudhataman cimsee qeeqaa turuunsaa kan yaadatamudha.

Gabaasaan Alamaayyoo Qannaa ti.

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/07/itoophiyaan-toora-interneetii-basaasuuf-bara-2012-keessa-doolara-miliyoona-tokko-baasuunshii-saaxilame/

Descent into hell continues in the Horn of African Country: Ethiopia is ‘not free’, global press freedom survey finds April 30, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Internet Freedom, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Freedom of the press around the world has plummeted to the worst level in a decade, a survey warned Wednesday, with the United States and China both tightening the noose.

Journalists globally encountered more restrictions from governments, militants, criminals and media owners, the annual report by the human rights group Freedom House said.

“Journalists faced intensified pressure from all sides in 2014,” said Jennifer Dunham, project manager of the report.

“Governments used security or antiterrorism laws as a pretext to silence critical voices, militant groups and criminal gangs used increasingly brazen tactics to intimidate journalists, and media owners attempted to manipulate news content to serve their political or business interests.”

One factor was the passage and use of restrictive laws, often on national security grounds.

“One of the most troubling developments of the past year was the struggle by democratic states to cope with an onslaught of propaganda from authoritarian regimes and militant groups,” Dunham said.

“There is a danger that instead of encouraging honest, objective journalism and freedom of information as the proper antidote, democracies will resort to censorship or propaganda of their own.”

Of the 199 countries and territories studied in 2014, a total of 63, or 32 percent, were rated “free” for the news media, while 71 (36 percent) were “partly free” and 65 (32 percent) “not free.”

Only 14 percent of the world’s inhabitants live in countries with a free press, Freedom House said.

The rating for the United States fell due to detentions, harassment, and rough treatment of journalists by police during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the report said.

Elsewhere in the Americas, declines in press freedom were seen in Honduras, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador.

The report said only five percent of people in the Asia-Pacific region have a free press, and that the rating for China fell as “authorities tightened control over liberal media outlets.”

Europe as a region had the highest score but also experienced the second-largest decline over the past 10 years.

The report also cited tougher conditions for journalists in Russia, Syria, Algeria, Nigeria and Ethiopia, while Tunisia “registered the best score of any Arab country.”

Suffocating Dissent: Gagging the Media in Ethiopia February 15, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Suffocating Dissent: Gagging the Media in Ethiopia

 13 February  2015  by Graham Peebles, Truthout | Op-Ed

Suffocating Dissent(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

Nobody trusts politicians, but some governments are more despicable than others. The brutal gang ruling Ethiopia is especially nasty. They claim to govern in a democratic, pluralistic manner; they say they observe human rights and the rule of law, that the judiciary is independent, the media open and free, and public assembly permitted as laid out in the constitution. But the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) systematically violates fundamental human rights, silences all dissenting voices and rules the country in a suppressive, violent fashion that is causing untold suffering to millions of people throughout the country.

There is no freedom of the press: Journalists are persecuted, intimidated and arrested on false charges, so too their families. All significant media outlets and print companies are state-owned or controlled, as is the sole telecommunications company – allowing for unfettered government monitoring and control of the internet. Radio is almost exclusively state-owned and, with adult literacy at around 48 percent, remains the major source of information. Where private media has survived, they are forced to self-censor their coverage of political issues: If they deviate from “approved content,” they face harassment and closure.

In many cases, journalists are forced to leave the country, and some are illegally tried in absentia and given long prison sentences or the death penalty. Human Rights Watch (HRW) states in its detailed report “Journalism Is Not a Crime,” that Ethiopia has more journalists in exile than “any country in the world other than Iran,” and estimates, “60 journalists have fled their country since 2010 while at least another 19 languish in prison.” More than 30 left in 2014, twice the number escaping in 2013 and 2012 combined, and numerous publications were closed down, revealing that the media situation and freedom of expression more widely are becoming more and more restrictive. “If they cannot indoctrinate you into their thinking, they fire you,” said a dismissed journalist from state-run Oromia Radio, summing up the approach of the ruling party to press freedom and indeed democracy as a whole.

With upcoming elections in May, the media should be allowed to perform its democratic responsibility – revealing policies and the incumbent regime’s abuses, providing a platform for opposition groups and encouraging debate. However, the guilt-ridden EPRDF government, desperate to keep a lid on the human rights violations it is committing, sees the independent media as the enemy, and denies it the freedom, guaranteed under the constitution, to operate freely.

Tools of Control

Soon after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, President George W. Bush made his now notorious speech in which he reaffirmed Ronald Reagan’s 1981 declaration to initiate a worldwide “war on terror,” against terrorism and nations that “provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.” Bush’s understandable if hypocritical political statement of intent allowed regimes perpetrating terror like the EPRDF to impose ever more repressive laws under the guise of “fighting terrorism” and “containing extremism.”

A year before the 2010 Ethiopian general election, the government introduced a raft of unconstitutional legislation to control the media, stifle opposition parties and inhibit civil society: The Charities and Societies Proclamation introduced in 2009 decimated independent civil society, and created, Amnesty International says, “a serious obstacle to the promotion and protection of human rights in Ethiopia.” It sits alongside the equally unjust Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) of the same year, which is the sledgehammer commonly used to suppress dissent and silence critical media voices both inside the country, abroad and on the internet. Overly broad and awash with ambiguity, the ATP allows for long-term imprisonment and the death penalty for so-called crimes that meet the government’s vague definition of terrorism, and allows evidence gained through torture to be admissible in court, which contravenes the UN Convention Against Torture, ratified by Ethiopia in 1994. In 2012, the government added the Telecom Fraud Offenses Proclamation to its arsenal of repression, criminalizing “the use of popular voice over IP (VoIP) communications software such as Skype for commercial purposes or to bypass the monopoly of state-owned Ethio-Telecom.” Eight years imprisonment and large fines are imposed if anyone is convicted of “using the telecommunications network to disseminate a ‘terrorizing message'” – whatever that may be.

The anti-terror legislation violates international law and has been repeatedlycondemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In addition, in September 2014, a group of UN human rights experts urged the ruling party “to stop misusing anti-terrorism legislation to curb freedoms of expression and association in the country.” The eminent group went on to call upon the government “to free all persons detained arbitrarily under the pretext of countering terrorism,” and “let journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and religious leaders carry out their legitimate work without fear of intimidation and incarceration.” Their visit followed one made by members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights who visited Ethiopia in July 2013 when they pressured the government to release journalists and opposition activists imprisoned under the ATP.

Wrapped in arrogance and paranoia, the EPRDF disregarded these righteous demands as well as requests to allow a visit by the “Special Rapporteurs on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” to visit the country and report “on the situation of human rights defenders.” No doubt, the people of Ethiopia would welcome such a visit; one questions the protocol that allows regimes like the EPRDF the right to deny such a request.

Keep Quiet

The ATP has been widely used to punish troublesome journalists who criticize the government or publish articles featuring opposition members and regional groups calling for self-determination. Anyone who challenges the EPRDF’s policies or draws attention to the human rights violations taking place throughout the country are branded with the T word, intimidated and silenced.

The two most prominent journalists to be imprisoned are award-winning Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu Gobebo. Arrested at least seven times, Nega is currently serving an 18-year sentence for doing nothing more than calling on the government to respect freedom of expression laws enshrined in the constitution (that the EPRDF themselves penned), and end torture in the country’s prisons. Reeyot Gobebo, winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, is currently serving a five-year jail term (commuted from 14 years after two of the charges were dropped on appeal), after being charged with a variety of unfounded, unsubstantiated terrorist related charges. These two courageous professionals, HRW relates, have “come to symbolize the plight of dozens more media professionals, both known and unidentified, in Addis Ababa and in rural regions, who have suffered threats, intimidation, sometimes physical abuse, and politically motivated prosecutions under criminal or terrorism charges.” When an article critical of the government is published, writers or editors receive threatening phone calls and text messages (emails in my case) from government stooges. If publications and broadcasters persist in publishing such pieces, they suffer persecution, arrest and imprisonment.

The EPRDF’s paranoid desire to control everything and everybody inside Ethiopia is not restricted to the national media alone. Voice of America (VoA) and Deutsche Welle (DW), which both have a presence in Addis Ababa, are routinely targeted by the government, as is ESAT TV, a shining light of independent broadcasting in Amharic from the United States and Europe. Their satellite transmissions are regularly jammed, and their staff and family members threatened and harassed; on January 11, 2015, the wife of Wondimagegne Gashu, a British citizen, long-time human rights activist and ESAT worker, was violently detained with her three young children for two days inside Addis Ababa airport. Before the family was deported, security personnel threatened to kill her husband if he continues his associations.

The government also restricts access to numerous websites, including independent news, opposition parties and groups defined by the government as terrorist organizations and political blogs. The required technology and expertise to carry out such criminal acts is supplied by unscrupulous companies from China and Europe – companies that should “assess [the] human rights risks raised by potential business activity, including risk posed to the rights of freedom of expression, access to information, association, and privacy.” In other words: behave in a responsible, ethical manner.

State Terrorism

Freedom of the media and freedom of expression sit alongside other democratic principles, like an independent judiciary, consensual governance, participation and freedom of assembly. Where these basic tenets are absent, so too is democracy. If the state systematically crushes independent media and commits widespread human rights violations, as in Ethiopia, we see not a democratic government, but a brutal dictatorship committing acts of state terrorism.

In HRW’s damning report on media freedoms within the country, a series of commonsense recommendations are made that should be immediately enforced. Chief among these are that all journalists currently imprisoned be released; that the government immediately cease jamming radio and television stations and unblock all websites of political parties, media and bloggers; that all harassment of individuals exercising their right to freedom of expression stop and that the regime repeal or amend all laws that infringe upon privacy rights.

By essentially banning independent media and making freedom of expression a criminal offense, the Ethiopian government is in gross violation of its own legally binding constitution as well as a raft of international covenants. All of which seems not to concern the ruling party, which treats international law with the same indifference it applies to the Ethiopian people. Pressure then needs to be applied by those nations with longstanding relationships with Ethiopia: the United States and Britain come to mind as the two nations that have the biggest investment in the country and whose gross negligence borders on complicity. As major donor nations, they have a moral responsibility to act on behalf of the people, to insist on the observance of human rights and the rule of law, and to hold the EPRDF regime accountable for its repressive criminal actions.

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/29051-suffocating-dissent-gagging-the-media-in-ethiopia?#14238671987381&action=collapse_widget&id=9921613

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Internet and its enemies: 36 out of 65 assessed countries show decline in internet freedom, 41 passed or proposed new laws to curb It. #Ethiopia. #Africa January 6, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, 25 killer Websites that make you cleverer, Africa, African Internet Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Facebook and Africa, Internet Freedom.
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mapofinternetfreedom

January 6, 2015 (Dazeinfo) — Amid all those talks of an overwhelmingly large majority of people (83%) wanting to make the right to access the internet at affordable prices a basic human right, most of us do not bother to look beyond getting connected to the net. Without undermining the importance of being connected to the internet, there is no doubting the need to ensure freedom over the internet.

Sadly enough, internet freedom has fallen for the fourth consecutive year in wake of more and more countries introducing belligerent and often offensive online censorship measures while others tightened the noose and made their existing measures in regard to the same more rigorous.

The fifth annual Freedom on the Net 2014 report released by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, tracks the developments between May 2013 and May 2014 and observed that out of the 65 assessed countries, 36 have shown a negative trajectory in 2014.

Key Findings of the Freedom on the Net 2014 Report

It has been observed that an increasing number of countries are now giving legal sanction to laws that curb internet freedom, in total contrast with the previous government policy of controlling the internet using invisible strings.

Expressing dissent with the government policy or not toeing their line in the online space can invite legal action now, due to which more and more individuals and media outlets are under pressure to either censor their online behavior or face legal action and, in extreme cases, even arrest.

That is in addition to blocking and filtering of content which are among the most common means of online censorship. Imprisoning those who put up ‘undesirable’ content is being seen by governments as a deterrent and, according to them, encourages self-censorship.

 

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At the same time, the use of physical violence against internet users ‘appears to have decreased in scope,’ says the report.

Of the 65 countries being assessed, 36 showed a decline in the degree of Internet freedom since May 2013.
Five countries with the most and least internet freedom were depicted in the form of a chart by the online statistics portal, Statista:

Iran, Syria and China were confirmed as the worst abusers of internet freedom in the world- a dubious honor for them! Countries wishing to impose more restrictions (like Iran, Belarus and Uzbekistan) often cite China as an example!
Iceland was ranked as the country with the highest degree of internet freedom. Five more countries which were appreciated in this regard are Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany and the United States.
41 countries passed or proposed new laws to penalize expressing of views over the internet, to increase the surveillance capabilities of the governments or to increase the powers of the government to control the content which get published online.
Very few countries recorded an improvement in the degree of freedom over the internet.
India and Brazil were among those few nations where some curbs were taken off. Belarus also eased some restrictions.
Concern was shown over both democratic and authoritarian governments seeking to curb the freedom of the internet.
Penalty for online expression in some countries is worse than for similar expression off the internet.
19 countries passed new laws to increase surveillance or to restrict user anonymity.
The number of people detained or prosecuted for their online behavior touched a record high, surpassing all previous figures.
Among those prosecuted, online journalists and bloggers covering anti-government demonstrations were among the prime targets.
Women all over the world “face immense cultural and socio-economic barriers to ICT access, resulting in significant gender gap in ICT use.
The LGBTI community also faces great threats and harassment over the internet.
With more and more internet users beginning to guard their online privacy, “malware attacks against government critics and human rights organizations have evolved to take on a more personalized character.”
Shocking Instances of Curbs on Internet Freedom across the World!

There have been many instances of internet freedom being curbed all over the world. And it is not only surprising but also shocking that even the so-called ‘democratic’ countries have not been liberal with their internet access policy. Some incidents which sent shock waves across everyone’s spines during the period covered by the report are:

The Russian government enacted a law to crack down on all online media which criticized the Vladimir Putin’s policy toward Kremlin without any judicial oversight. Three major news sites were blocked within six weeks as a result of this law.
One of the worst offenders, Iran, does not allow its citizens to access social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Those promoting Sufism online were made to serve long prison sentences. Six Iranians who recorded a video of them dancing to Pharrell’s song “Happy” and posted it on YouTube (the video later went viral) were punished with 91 lashes each and six months of imprisonment. The director was ‘awarded’ a full year.
A new law in Ethiopia allows the government to snoop into computers, networks, internet sites, social media platforms, television and radio stations “for any possible damage to the country’s social, economic, political and psychological well-being”, citing that blogs, social media sites and other digital media have the potential to “instigate war, to damage the country’s image and create havoc in the economic atmosphere of the country.”
Governments in Turkey, Thailand, Russia, Kazakhstan and Italy allow agencies controlled by them to block content with no judicial oversight and with little or no transparency at all.
Uzbekistan passed a law requiring owners of cybercafés to record browsing history of customers for three months.
The draconian ‘bloggers law’ passed by the Russian government in May 2014 increased government surveillance of social media users by making it mandatory for anyone having sites or pages which draw more than 3,000 daily views to register with the telecommunications regulator.
A blogger in Ethiopia was sentenced to an 18 year term while six more await a trial for expressing dissent over government policies or actions over the internet.
News site editors in Azerbaijan were arrested and implicated under charges of hooliganism or drug possession.
Kavita Krishnan, a women’s rights activist in India, was harassed online by someone using the handle @RAPIST.
Mukhlif al-Shammari who posted a YouTube video about mistreatment of females in Saudi Arabia was jailed for five years.
Egyptian government used an application called Grindr to track and prosecute men belonging to the homosexual community. Russian and Ugandan governments also usedonline tools and malware to lure people belonging to this community and then harassed them.
In June 2013, a woman in Pakistan was stoned to death by local men after she was found guilty of possessing a mobile phone by the tribal court!
Iceland, which boasts of a 97% internet access, has no restrictions over the use of social sites and the government does not block any content was presented as a noteworthy example.

Sanja Kelly, Freedom House’s project director for Freedom on the Net, explained that governments are finding new and less detectable manners to control free speech online

“As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier – but no less dangerous – methods for controlling online conversations”, says Sanjay.

Though it is important to ensure that the internet becomes accessible for a larger number of people, mere access to it will be no good if the government makes it an additional channel for snooping over its citizens or the users are threatened, harassed, discredited, punished or imprisoned for not bowing to the rulers’ diktats.

Read more @ http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/36-out-of-65-assessed-countries-show-decline-in-internet-freedom-41-passed-or-proposed-new-laws-to-curb-it/

Ethiopia is one of 10 least connected in the digital world in mobile phone and internet use. #Africa November 27, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in 25 killer Websites that make you cleverer, Africa, African Internet Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Facebook and Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, The 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The Global Innovation Index, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia, Tweets and Africa.
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OEthiopiadisconnected

 

Denmark, Korea And Sweden are the world’s most digitally connected countries while Ethiopia is one of 10 least connected

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November 26, 2014 (The Telegraph) — Denmark has been named the world’s “most connected” country based on mobile phone and internet use.

Scandinavia dominated this year’s rankings, with Sweden in third place, followed by Iceland in fourth, Norway sixth and Finland eighth. Britain came fifth.

They were compiled as part of a report by the International Telecommunication Union – theInformation and Communication Technology Development Index (IDI), which rates 166 countries according to their level of access to, use of and skills in using information and communication technology.

Hong Kong was the ninth most connected country, coming in ahead of Japan in 11th place, while Luxembourg completed the top 10.

Other countries in the top 30 included the US (which ranked 14th), Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, Germany, France, New Zealand, Estonia and Macau, as well the principalities of Andorra and Monaco.

The 10 least connected countries were all in Africa, with the Central African Republic being the worst, followed by Niger, Chad, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

All countries were shown to have improved their IDI values in the last year, while the nations with the “most dynamic” improvement in ranking included the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Cape Verde, Thailand, Oman, Qatar, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Georgia. Improvements were said to have been driven mostly by better wireless broadband connection.

Europe proved to be the most connected region, scooping up eight of the top 10 rankings, while Africa had the lowest regional ranking. The continent, however, did show a mobile broadband growth rate of more than 40 per cent in 2014 on last year.

Nearly three billion people globally will be using the internet by the end of this year, up by nearly 40 per cent on last year. But 450 million people still don’t live within reach of a mobile signal, while 4.3 billion people are not connected to the internet – with 90 per cent of those living in developing countries, the report said.

Earlier this year, Telegraph Travel’s technology expert Donald Strachan outlined the “world’s Wi-Fi-friendliest cities”, featuring various countries from the top 40 of this year’s IDI report.

Connecting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki is password-free and easy thanks to a network of hotspots in public buildings, civic squares and even on some buses and trams around the city.

Hong Kong, “one of the world’s most futuristic cities”, was said to be generous with free internet access in public areas. There are several free Wi-Fi networks, the key ones being GovWiFi (at parks, libraries, public buildings, ferry terminals and more) and MTR WiFi, which provides 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi per device up to five times every day at MTR stations.

Taipei offers 30 days of free access to a national, government-backed network of over 5,000 hotpsots. Hundreds of these free iTaiwan hotspots are available throughout the Taiwanese capital.

Macau was noted for its WiFiGo service which offers free internet for visitors every day between 8am and 1am. The network has around 150 hotspots, meaning there’s usually Wi-Fi close by, including at ports, museums and tourist information centres.

Other major cities with free public Wi-Fi access include New York, Paris and Perth, Australia, as well as Florence and Tel Aviv, which has eighty hotspots dotted around its centre.

Access to free Wi-Fi has been an increasingly important factor for travellers around the world, especially when booking a hotel. Britain’s hotels were found to be among the worst in Europe for free Wi-Fi access, while the two best performing cities were both Swedish – Malmö and Gothenburg, where 98 per cent and 96 per cent of hotels were found to offer free Wi-Fi, a survey by the travel search engine KAYAK earlier this year revealed.

A new website aiming to help travellers in the search for free and fast wireless internet access was introduced earlier this year.Hotewifitest.com lets hotel guests test the speed of their internet connection, and then stores the results for others to view. It also records whether the Wi-Fi is free or comes at a price.

Several airports around the world also offer free Wi-Fi services, with Dallas-Forth Worth in Texas being among the best, providing free Wi-Fi in all five of its terminals since 2012. Since upgrading its former paid network, the number of daily Wi-Fi connections has risen from 2,000 to 55,000. Helsinki Airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport, Seoul’s Incheon Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol complete the world’s top five for airport Wi-Fi quality.

Earlier this year, Britain’s biggest airports have been criticised for failing to provide passengers with unlimited Wi-Fi access.

None of Britain’s six busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh and Luton – offer unlimited free internet access, according to a study by Skyscanner, the flight comparison website.

Source: The Telegraph

http://www.traveller.com.au/denmark-korea-sweden-the-worlds-most-connected-country-11uwmr

 

 

 

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