BlackBerry has confirmed that it is exiting its entire operations in Pakistan entirely to avoid allowing authorities in the nation to monitor its main business enterprise server and e-mail messages.
Back in July, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said it would shutter BlackBerry Enterprise Services (known as BES) by December 1 for “security reasons.” The issue was thought to center around BlackBerry’s encryption of emails, BBM messages and other data from its users which prevented authorities from gaining the access to information that they deemed necessary for national security.
In a blog post, Marty Beard, Chief Operating Officer at BlackBerry, wrote: “After Nov. 30, BlackBerry will no longer operate in Pakistan.” According to the post, Islamabad had wanted access to all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, “including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message.”
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.
Pakistan’s demand was not a question of public safety; we are more than happy to assist law enforcement agencies in investigations of criminal activity. Rather, Pakistan was essentially demanding unfettered access to all of our BES customers’ information. The privacy of our customers is paramount to BlackBerry, and we will not compromise that principle.
Interestingly, while the PTA was focused only on gaining access to BES, BlackBerry said it has decided to withdraw its consumer business (BIS: BlackBerry’s Internet Services) from the country too.
“Pakistan’s demand for open access to monitor a significant swath of our customers’ communications within its borders left us no choice but to exit the country entirely,” Beard added.
Pakistan isn’t likely to be a major revenue source for the company, and, on the positive side, this move shows it is making a stand for user data and security, two areas where it has long believed that it can stand apart from the competition, TechCrunch reported.