The Communications Ministry has launched an investigation into Israel's 56 licensed Internet service providers (ISPs) regarding the illegal usage of international calls via voice over Internet technology in a move to clamp down on VoIP piracy. The ministry has written letters to all 56 ISPs asking them to ensure that their systems are not illegally supporting long-distance calls using voice over VoIP technology, which bypasses Israel's authorized international calls carriers. "We are calling internet companies to adhere to the terms of their licenses and make sure their systems are not being abused by non-licensed parties for the usage of VoIP. This is not directed against Skype and other VoIP companies but to clamp down on private individuals and private communications businesses who illegally use VoIP technology for selling international phone cards", said the spokesperson at the ministry. Ministry of communications director general Avi Balashnikov said the illegal activity seriously harmed licensed international calls carriers. VoIP has been taking revenue away from international calls carriers and is pushing down prices. The investigation was launched by the supervisory department at the ministry in response to formal complaints to the regulator about the usage of the software. The ministry said that according to the complaints, illegal voice and data communications traffic was taking place in both directions. Balashnikov emphasized that these calls infringe on the telecommunications and broadcasting laws and offenders will be prosecuted. "In recent years we have already stopped 30 VoIP pirates", said the ministry's spokesperson. The majority of ISPs responded to the ministry that they met the terms of their licenses and, to the best of their knowledge, their systems were not used for this purpose. The ministry sent reminders to the companies which have not replied yet and added that the investigation will closely watch the ISPs to make sure the ministry's directives are being followed.