It documents how the Ethiopian government uses its control over the telecommunications system to restrict the right to privacy and freedoms of expression and association, and access to information, among other rights.
New communications tools like Voice over Internet Protocol VoIP voice calls made over Internet networkschat, email, and social media services can be intercepted, though use of encryption can help shield online activity.
Regional government and security officials routinely accuse dissidents, critics and students of being OLF "terrorists" or insurgents. It controls access to the phone network and to the Internet and all phone and Internet traffic must use Ethio Telecom infrastructure.
Commonly known as the system, it has many variations depending on location but all involve Ethiopians monitoring the day-to-day activities of other Ethiopians, including friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbors.
ZTE sells a range of telecommunications equipment, software, and services, including network switches, mobile handsets, and software systems.
In some cases, security officials knew the phone numbers of the people they were interrogating, but in many cases they did not.
Commit to independent and transparent third-party monitoring to ensure compliance with human rights standards, including by joining a multi-stakeholder initiative like the GNI. These surveillance systems are set up throughout the country to monitor election compliance, to gather intelligence, and to serve other functions.
To the World Bank, African Development Bank, and other Donors Undertake human rights due diligence on telecommunication projects in Ethiopia, to prevent directly or indirectly supporting violations of the rights to privacy or freedom of expression, association, or movement; or access to information including through censorship, illegal surveillance, or network shutdowns.
Recommendations To the Government of Ethiopia Enact protections for the right to privacy to prevent abuse and arbitrary use of surveillance, national security, and law enforcement powers as guaranteed under international law applicable to Ethiopia.
In some cases, this was to verify information that security officials already seemed to know but in most cases officials seemed to be acquiring new information.
While some of the individuals who were subject to this unsophisticated but effective technique were in remote, rural areas and not high-profile, some very high-profile individuals were subject to this basic technique.
While monitoring of communications can legitimately be used to combat criminal activity, corruption, and terrorism, in Ethiopia there is little in the way of guidelines or directives on surveillance of communications or use of collected information to ensure such practices are not illegal.