Online surveillance, Kazakhstan bans introduction of the system

State Security officials said its purpose was to protect Kazakhstani users from “hacker attacks, cyber fraud and other types of cyber threats”.

Kazakhstan has banned the implementation of an online surveillance system criticized by lawyers as illegal, with the government describing its initial participation as a test.

Cell phone operators in the oil-rich nation’s capital, Nur-Sultan, had asked customers to install a cryptographic certificate on their devices or risk losing access to the internet.

The certificate allowed user traffic to be intercepted by the government, bypassing the encryption used by emails and messaging applications.

But late Tuesday, the State Security Committee in Kazakhstan said in a statement that attending the certificates was merely a test that has now been completed. Users can remove the certificate and use the internet as usual, he said.

Some Kazakh lawyers said this week they had sued the country’s three mobile operators, arguing that restricting internet access to those who refused to install the certificate would be illegal.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a tweet that he had personally ordered the test which showed that safeguards “would not disturb Kazakh internet users”.

“There is no reason for concern,” he said.

Even before the certificate was issued, the former Soviet republic routinely blocked access – usually for periods of hours – to popular websites and applications, including Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp and Telegram messaging services.

The blocs have usually coincided with live broadcasts by government critics and public protests, the latest wave of which took place during and after the June 9 election that made Tokayev, formerly an interim leader, a full-time president./

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