No backdoor, no service: BlackBerry to exit Pakistan

Blackberry is all set to shut down its operations in Pakistan. The statement came from the company after continuing request from the government to install a backdoor in the enterprise devices.

Blackberry earlier this year received a ban from PTA (Pakistani Telecommunications Authority) when the company refused to install backdoors in their devices. The ban was to be effective from 30th November.

Just before the ban, a report from advocacy group Privacy International reflected on how Pakistani government was trying to get access of the sensitive data to spy the people in the country. The report found government’s surveillance efforts similar to NSA and warned of the data the ISI (An intelligence agency in Pakistan) was gathering.

The Pakistani government did try to convince Blackberry by pushing the effective date for the ban, but intentions from Blackberry were made clear on 30th November when their CEO in a blog post announced the complete shutdown of the operations in Pakistan.

In the blog post, he mentioned his company’s aim of protecting user’s privacy and in order to keep up with their aim they will have to exit operations with the country. Further, he said:

“In July, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority notified the country’s mobile phone operators that BlackBerry’s BES servers would no longer be allowed to operate in the country starting in December ‘for security reasons”

He also revealed the exact demands, government put forward:

“The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message. But BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive as we have said many times, we do not support “back doors” granting open access to our customers’ information and have never done this anywhere in the world.”

But, there are still some negotiations in progress, on what access the company can provide to the government, if there is no particular agreement within next 30 days, Blackberry’s journey in Pakistan might be over.

HackRead’s exclusive talk with a Pakistani intelligence officer:

HackRead got in touch with one of the intelligence officers in Islamabad working for the ISI, speaking on condition of anonymity the official said:

“We understand the need of privacy and powerful encryption, we are the victims when NSA snooped into out phones but for now as we know terrorists like the ISIS and other organizations are moving to the dark web and hiding behind encrypted devices. So it’s time to get access to such places + the devices to catch the culprits playing with innocent lives.”

However, this is not the first time BlackBerry has faced problems with offering powerful encryption to its users. In the past, according to an ex-NSA lawyer the company limited their sales due to their security.

Owais Sultan

Owais takes care of Hackread's social media from the very first day. At the same time He is pursuing for chartered accountancy and doing part time freelance writing.