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Kazakhstan bans smartphones for police, civil servants

By AFP 18 March 2016

Ex-Soviet Kazakhstan is set to enforce a ban on smartphones in the workplace for police and government workers in an effort to prevent information leaks, according to a document that was itself leaked.

A government document leaked to the media in the Central Asian state on Thursday said smartphones would be banned starting March 24 for on-duty police officers and civil servants given “increasingly frequent cases of confidential information leaking through the WhatsApp mobile application”.

A Kazakh civil servant told AFP on Friday that government workers had heard they would soon be searched for smartphones at the entrance of their workplaces but that such measures had not yet been implemented.

The Kazakh government has yet to comment on the leaked document’s authenticity.

Interior Minister Kalmukhanbet Kasymov said Thursday that police had already been informally forbidden from using smartphones on the job.

Kasymov denied that the new ban was connected to a scandal that saw a photograph of a murdered student’s corpse taken by police leaked and shared on social networks last month.

Ex-Kazakh officials have already spoken out against the ban.

Murat Abenov, a former deputy education minister, told AFP civil servants would now “carry smartphones in their socks.”

“Smartphones help officials do elementary things like check the weather before they go on a trip or see how a word translates from Russian into Kazakh,” he said.

“They could have simply introduced these limitations for people who work with confidential materials, rather than all officials,” he added.

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© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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