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Kazakhstan moves to snoop on its citizens' internet traffic

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Kazakhstan moves to snoop on its citizens' internet traffic


Kazakhstan has been accused taking a leaf out of China’s book with its “back door attempt” to gain access to all encrypted web traffic as it flows in and out of the country.

A new law passed by the government – which will come into effect in January – means that all citizens must install a national security certificate on their PCs and mobile devices

This will allow officials the chance to read all encrypted traffic such as passwords, bank accounts as well as block access to content to internet and mobile users.

Kazakhtelecom, the country’s largest telecoms provider, posted a message on its website on November 30, which was removed a few days later but can still be viewed from a cache version here.

The so-called national security certificate will, the message says, “secure protection of Kazakhstan users when using coded access protocols to foreign Internet resources”.

China uses top-of-the-range digital equipment, fondly known as the Great Firewall, a walled-off compound near the Forbidden City in Beijing, where all internet in and out of the country is controlled. Experts say Kazakhstan is attempting the same trick, but on the cheap.

When two devices talk to one another as the HTTPS, the data sent from one to the other is encrypted in such as way that it can only be seen by the sender and user. Kazakhstan’s system will allow it to unecrypt this data.

Amnesty International has long had concerns about restrictions to the media and internet. Earlier this year it released a report about repressive governments using spyware to keep tabs on activists.

Countries such as Kazakhstan were accused of using mobile spyware on phones, which it said “allows people to track your location via GPS, access your contacts list, spy on your SMS messaging and record your calls”

Kazakhstan is not the first government to have attempted to control internet flow. Turkey recently blocked Twitter and YouTube before it was forced into a u-turn.

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