Respecting Freedom of Expression – TeliaSonera view on new legislation in Kazakhstan

TeliaSonera in December 2013 adopted a Group Policy on Freedom of Expression in Telecommunications. According to our Policy we will, whenever possible, report on commitments in relation to requests or demands with potentially serious impacts on freedom of expression in telecommunications.

TeliaSonera in December 2013 adopted a Group Policy on Freedom of Expression in Telecommunications, available here. According to our Policy we will, whenever possible, report on commitments in relation to requests or demands with potentially serious impacts on freedom of expression in telecommunications.

Government’s requests or demands often serve legitimate purposes such as the protection of certain human rights, but they may also be problematic in that they could conflict with other human rights. TeliaSonera’s commitment is to respect freedom of expression in telecommunications.

In Kazakhstan, a new amendment to the Kazakhstani Law on Communications has been introduced, which allows temporary suspension of communication networks and/or means of communication, provision of communication services, access to Internet resources, and/or information contained therein, in the country by order of the General Prosecutor or its deputies. According to the new law, operators and ISPs must comply within maximum three hours.

The Policy of TeliaSonera is not to engage in the politics of the countries in which we operate. We do not comment on politics or make political statements when representing our company. However, TeliaSonera does engage in dialogue regarding regulations that affect our business and customers of companies in which we have ownership interests.

TeliaSonera, as further defined in our Group Policy, advocates clear and transparent legal provisions on proportionality and necessity for all government blocking or restricting of access to specific services, Internet websites or content. It is our view that broadly conceived legal provisions are not appropriate when freedom of expression is at stake. We also argue that all governments decisions to this regard should be conducted under the supervision of a court or some other independent judicial body, ensuring transparency and accountability.

TeliaSonera will continue to promote these views, also when interacting with the Government of Kazakhstan.