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Why Are Israel And China Scared Of VoIP?
VoIP makes for strange bedfellows. Both Israel and China are blocking, or working to block, VoIP. These two countries couldn't be any more different. Israel is a thriving democracy, while China is run by autocrats who jails dissidents, and for whom democracy is an anathema. So why are both fighting VoIP?
In Israel's case, the move apparently was made to protect the country's telcos. Israel regulates international calls, and only allows certain telcos to carry international calls. Israel's Ministry of Communications banned ISPs from allowing their systems to be used for international VoIP calls.
There's a little less here than meets the eye, though. The move targeted "pirate" companies that buy bandwidth from an ISP, sell international phone-calling cards, then use the ISP's bandwidth the carry the calls. It's not directed at individual consumers.
Still, Israel should back off. The country is one of the world's great technical innovators (it birthed, among others, ICQ), and it should have a hands-off approach to new technologies.
China is coming down much harder on VoIP. Its big telecom companies have been working on blocking Skype and other VoIP technologies.
There are probably two motives at work here. One is to protect China's telcos from competition. Another, no doubt, has to do with the government's attempt to wall off China from the rest of the world. It's built a giant Internet firewall around the country, trying to block people's access to information about democracy, Tibet, and whatever else the rulers feel like blocking that day. China fears, above all, free communications, and VoIP would allow people to speak freely, with less fear of wiretaps than traditional telephony.
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