Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has ordered the local cellular operators to completely shut down Canadian smartphone maker’s BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) by the end of November due to security concerns by the security agency.
Earlier we reported that Pakistan’s security agency i.e. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has been planning to improve their surveillance and eavesdropping capabilities which would allow them to monitor and intercept all the Internet traffic travelling through the international undersea cables.
And now just after few days, the news came in that the Pakistan’s security agency has instructed the telecommunication authority for the closure of BlackBerry Enterprise Services in the country.
The official notice named “PTA BlackBerry Ban” says,
“Due to serious concerns by the security agency, Mobilink, Ufone, and Telenor Pakistan are requested to offer 90 days notice as per the existing provisions to their BES customers for closing their BES connections, and ensure that all BES connections of their customers must be closed by or before November 30 without fail.”
For those of you who don’t know, BlackBerry provides its users with the most secure communication platform which is entrusted and being used by most of the government and armed officials throughout the world. BlackBerry’s messaging and emailing services offers data encryption which cannot be intercepted, ensuring superior privacy for users but making it tougher for security intelligence to eavesdrop.
According to the statement by BlackBerry spokesperson Kara Yi,
“BlackBerry provides the world’s most secure communications platform to government, military and enterprise customers. Protecting that security is paramount to our mission. While we recognize the need to cooperate with lawful government investigative requests of criminal activity, we have never permitted wholesale access to our BES servers.”
However, there are just a few thousands of customers using BlackBerry services within the country – out of which about 90 percent are business or government users, or some overseas embassies users. But due to the threatening conditions of the country where terrorist attacks and abductions have become a norm, security agencies are concerned that BES are also being used by the criminals.
Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority while talking to the Tribune said,
“The decision to block the BES was taken on the directives of the interior ministry due to security reasons […] There was a challenge that the Blackberry email service could not be tracked or decoded, which leads to the security reasons.”
News about the termination of services isn’t coming up for the first time. Previously, the similar problem has been faced by BlackBerry. The government of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and India has also interrupted the BlackBerry services because they were concerned that terrorists and lawbreakers were negatively using the services.
The three major local cellular operators of Pakistan i.e. Mobilink, Ufone and Telenor are asked to submit agreement report to the telecommunication authority within 10 days to make sure that there is no BlackBerry Enterprise Service connection is active after November 30th, 2015.