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Meanwhile, cybercafes are subject to onerous requirements under the 2002 Telecommunications (Amendment) Proclamation, which requires cybercafe owners to obtain an operating license with Ethio Telecom via a murky process that can take months.
The latter phenomenon led people to suspect government engagement in a widespread eavesdropping scheme (see “Violations of User Rights” for details on surveillance).
The government’s approach to internet filtering generally entails hindering access to a list of specific internet protocol (IP) addresses or domain names at the level of the Ethio Telecom-controlled international gateway.
A more sophisticated strategy of blocking websites based on a keyword in the URL path, known as deep-packet inspection (DPI), was detected in May 2012 when the Tor network—an online tool that enables users to browse anonymously—was blocked. In January 2014, an independent test conducted by a researcher based in the country found 120 unique URLs that were inaccessible in the country, 62 of which were Ethiopian news websites, 14 of which were political party websites, 37 of which were blogs, and 7 of which were television and online radio websites. During the test, some websites opened at the first attempt but were inaccessible when refreshed.
The country is connected 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.
In an effort to expand connectivity, the government has reportedly installed several thousand kilometers of fiber-optic cable throughout the country over the past few years. Construction of the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) was completed and launched in July 2010, but its effects on Ethiopia have yet to be seen as of mid-2014. The space for independent initiatives in the ICT sector, entrepreneurial or otherwise, is extremely limited, with state-owned Ethio Telecom holding a firm monopoly over internet and mobile phone services in the country.Most alarmingly, six bloggers from the critical Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists associated with Zone9 were arrested in late April 2014 on charges of terrorism, which, under the Telecom Fraud Offenses Law and anti-terrorism proclamation, can entail a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if the bloggers are found guilty.