Apple and Other Browser Makers Ban Kazakhstan HTTPS Certificate Used to Surveil Citizens

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Apple has teamed up with Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla to block a web browser root certificate that was being used by the Kazakhstan government to surveil its citizens.

The certificate allowed authorities to monitor people’s online activity by intercepting and decrypting HTTPS traffic from residents in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

Local ISPs were required to block foreign websites including Google and Twitter, unless users had the certificate installed, but Apple and the other browser makers on Friday acted in unison to ban the certificate, according to ZDNet.

Since the ban, Chrome, Edge, Mozilla, and Safari refuse to work with the certificate, and the browsers throw up error messages to users who installed it, telling them the certificate can’t be used because it isn’t trustworthy.

As ZDNet notes, this is the second time the four browser makers have banned a certificate issued by the Kazakh government for man-in-the-middle attacks. The first block came in August 2019, and acted to prevent a certificate used to intercept traffic for various Russian and English-speaking social media sites.

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