Ethiopia stops filtering hundreds of websites, says official

Ethiopian government removed the blockade on hundreds of websites, including ESAT and OMN, announced a government official.

“Freedom of expression is a foundational right that other rights depend on. Ethiopia has opened access to 264 blocked websites/blogs/ESAT and OMN. A free flow of information is essential for engaged & responsible citizenry. Only a free market of ideas will lead to the truth”, tweeted Fetsum Arega head of Special Office of the Prime Minister today.

It was not clear whether there are anymore blocked websites and whether the 264 platforms were Ethiopian related platforms.

Ethiopia has been engaged in internet filtering since 2005. There has been successive advancements of the filtering technology since 2011.

Political website, which are affiliated to diaspora opposition groups or deemed ‘objectionable’, and pornographic sites has been routinely targeted.

Several other websites and platforms have been blocked at times, both due to the limitations of the internet filtering technology employed and negligence. The entire blogspot platform, along with thousands of blogs, have been inaccessible in late 2000s.

The filtering techniques apparently improved in the past years. The inaccessibility of Instagram has been the latest example of inexplicable case.

The blockade on facebook, which have been in place since late 2017, was removed in April, following the ruling party’s election of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. However, facebook connection has been intermittent in the past weeks, apparently due to the national university entrance examination and the unrest in the SNNP region.

Ethiopia lacks an official and transparent guideline governing the government’s internet filtering.



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