The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is troubled by a provision in the new communications law of Kazakhstan, which would require all Internet users to install a “national security certificate” on their devices. The certificate would permit government authorities to access all Internet traffic, regardless of whether encryption technology is used. The law will take effect on January 1, 2016.
Earlier this year, in its submission to the report of UN special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, the GNI expressed concern regarding government proposals and practices that compromise the digital security of individuals to pursue law enforcement objectives. Encrypted communications are particularly important for journalists and human rights defenders—people who need to be able to communicate confidentially with sources—by mitigating the threat of surveillance.
Governments should support strong encryption, and rather than compromising digital security, they should use legal process to make requests of companies who encrypt and store their users’ data. If requests are across jurisdictions, governments should rely on mutual legal assistance (MLA) processes, or other international frameworks with human rights protections.