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David Weinberger
VoIP crime

US citizen Ilya Mafter has been detained by the Belarusians for committing the crime of Voice over IP. The government says that he caused about US$100,000 in damage to the country's telephony providers "as a result of illegal communications services using IP telephony that were organized by Mafter."

Such illegal communications services hurt telephone companies and in many countries these telephone companies are run by the government or wield a great deal of power. Sometimes it's easy to forget that competition with monopolies is illegal in many countries.



This is a huge and common problem. Throughout the Middle East, the telecomm sector is a "cash cow" (wireless is more reliable than trying to get twisted pair or fiber in, thus everyone carries a mobile), so they go after huge bids on licenses, don't let in net providers, etc. You would not believe the monthly costs for legal lines (only ISDN speed is ~35K USD a month in some countries). VoIP is illegal in many places in the region.

It goes without saying that this pisses me off to no end, and I've spoken about it in the region every opportunity I have.

[FYI, check your mail.]


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