Summary: Kazakhstan's government engages in website blocking and censorship of opposition views. The government engages in video surveillance of users of Internet cafes and tracks their web history. Kazakhstan does not provide ISP safe harbors or legal protection for net neutrality.
Censorship and restrictions on speech
The Constitution recognizes the freedom of speech and the press, but, in practice, the government has censored opposition views that are critical of the government. Article 20 states:
- The freedom of speech and creative activities shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited.
- Everyone shall have the right to freely receive and disseminate information by any means not prohibited by law. The list of items constituting state secrets of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall be determined by law.
- Propaganda of or agitation for the forcible change of the constitutional system, violation of the integrity of the Republic, undermining of state security, and advocating war, social, racial, national, religious, class and clannish superiority as well as the cult of cruelty and violence shall not be allowed. [English text]
The government controls or has influence with a good portion of the media, all of whom are required to register with the Ministry of Culture (except for websites). Press reporting public corruption and opposition stories said they were often subject to harassment and intimidation. The law holds the press responsible, civilly and criminally, unless the content is from an official source. State secrets law is so broad that it criminalizes reporting many aspects of the President's life. The libel and defamation laws are also very broad and have been used by political leaders to stop unflattering articles about them.
The government has reportedly engaged in blocking and throttling of websites that are critical of the government, including the NGO Adil Soz, Golos Respubliki, LiveJournal, and blogs.
The Constitution recognizes a right to privacy in Article 18:
- Everyone shall have the right to inviolability of private life, personal or family secrets, protection of honor and dignity.
- Everyone shall have the right to confidentiality of personal deposits and savings, correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraph and other messages. Limitation of this right shall be permitted only in the cases and according to the procedure directly established by law.
- State bodies, public associations, officials, and the mass media must provide every citizen with the possibility to obtain access to documents, decisions and other sources of information concerning his rights and interests. [English text]
In practice, however, privacy is not secure. Kazakhstan requires Internet cafes to have video surveillance cameras, to require IDs before use of the Internet, and to keep browsing information for inspection.
According to 2013 ITU figures, Kazakhstan has 9,577,924 users or a 54% Internet penetration.
ISP safe harbors
Kazakhstan does not have a safe harbor for ISPs. It has 3 ISPs, one of which (Kaztelecom) is state-owned.
Kazakhstan does not have legal protection for net neutrality.