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Legal threat to Skype users

24 March 2004
People using peer-to-peer (P2P) ‘network bypass' software to make cheap international telephone calls over the Internet may yet face action for illegal practices.

According to Andrew Weldrick, senior manager for media relations at Telkom, the incumbent is currently the only operator licensed to carry and land international voice traffic, although the second national operator (SNO) will have the same rights once it is granted its licence.

“As far as Telkom is concerned, ‘network bypass' software is illegal and - although it is difficult to police - if we feel there has been a transgression in this regard, we can investigate and file a complaint with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), and it will then take the necessary legal action,” says Weldrick.

It is estimated that thousands of South Africans have downloaded the Skype software program, which is available free and allows users to make international calls from the Internet
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