Respecting Freedom of Expression - TeliaSonera view on new legislation in the country of Kazakhstan

According to this TeliaSonera’s Group Policy on Freedom of Expression in Telecommunications we will, whenever possible, report on new legislation with potentially serious impacts on the freedom of expression of our customers.

Government’s surveillance and control of communications 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.

New Kazakh legislation on communications was published on 26 November 2015 aimed to strengthen cybersecurity, increase the combat against international terrorism, child sexual abuse material as well as transnational crime. The law implies that Kcell will, as soon as secondary regulation is in place (unclear when), be obliged to transfer its traffic via a protocol that supports encryption using a certificate issued by the State. This obligation does not apply to traffic which was encrypted in the territory of Kazakhstan. All users will, as soon as the secondary regulation is in place, have the right not to download certificates on their respective device. While there will be no sanctions for not installing the certificates, users may encounter limitations in functionality of foreign websites and services which uses other encryption than such under the national and trusted certificate. Access to websites which do not use encryption will not be affected.

Information about the law is available, in Russian, via the following link. So far, there is no official press release  from the Regulator on the introduction of security certificates on their website to refer to.
In the beginning of December, the National Telecom Association sent a letter to the Regulator with its proposals on the draft rules for the use of security certificates. Earlier, in February of 2015, Kcell addressed other operators with its concerns on the draft  law on protection of children from harmful information, which proposed introduction of security certificates for the first time. Kcell is currently engaged in the law-making process for secondary legislation.

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 legislation in the context of surveillance and control over communications. TeliaSonera will continue to promote these views, also when interacting with the Government of Kazakhstan in their drafting of secondary legislation in relation to this new law.

TeliaSonera’s Group Policy on Freedom of Expression in Telecommunications is available here.