Tech giants will block Kazakhstan's web surveillance efforts again

They're blocking the country's government-issued root certificate on their browsers.

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Mariella Moon
December 18, 2020 3:00 AM
In this article: Google, Mozilla, Kazakhstan, news, gear
Kazakhstan flag is waving at a beautiful and peaceful sky in day time while sun is shining. 3D Rendering
HStocks via Getty Images

Kazakhstan is trying yet again to force its citizens to install a "national security certificate" on every internet-capable device in the country. That government-issued root certificate would allow authorities to keep tabs on people’s online traffic, essentially becoming a back door to access citizens’ data. As a response to the country’s latest attempt to spy on people’s devices, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla have teamed up like they did last year to block the certificate from working on their browsers.

In its announcement, Mozilla said it was recently informed that ISPs in Kazakhstan have recently started telling customers that they’re required to install the digital certificate to be able to access foreign websites. ZDNet reported earlier this month that Kazakh IPS have been cutting people’s access to websites like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Netflix unless they install the certificate.

As the publication notes, this is far from the first time the country’s government tried to keep a close eye on its citizens’ online activities. It made a similar attempt back in 2015 and then again in 2019, but tech giants helped to put a stop to those plans by blocking the certificate like what they’re doing now.

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When users in Kazakhstan who complied with their ISPs’ demand try to access websites on their devices, they’ll get an error telling them that the certificate shouldn’t be trusted. The companies are also encouraging those users to research the use if VPN or the Tor Browser for web browsing and to change the passwords for their accounts.

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