According to sources, Blackberry Ltd. may not leave Pakistan. The government will not suspend BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) from December 30, as the company has partly agreed to government’s circumstances. Earlier, Bidness Etc reported that the Canadian phone maker would cease all operations from the country amidst a tussle over data privacy. Blackberry had informed that the Pakistani government had claimed backdoor access to BES user data for surveillance purposes.
BlackBerry Partially Agrees to Govt’s Conditions
On November 30, 2015, BlackBerry announced its exit from Pakistan for too much pressure from Pakistani government for backdoor access. However PTA gave a one month extension to BlackBerry for further negotiation on how it will permit Pakistani government access to its communication services.
After the extension from Pakistani government, BlackBerry stated on its website:
“Government of Pakistan has notified BlackBerry that it has extended its shutdown order from November 30 to December 30. BlackBerry will delay its exit from the Pakistan market until then.”
As BlackBerry was given an ultimatum to either fulfill or stop all operations in the country, it picked the second option. Many acclaimed the company’s deportment to guard privacy in this day and age, where surveillance and encryption serve as dubious issues.
Sources revealed that Blackberry has partially agreed to the government’s conditions, the terms have not been disclosed yet. Though the company would never offer a backdoor to the authorities, it would work together with law implementation agencies. Relevant examples include the UAE and India, where BlackBerry only hands over user information, if there is a legal license. It looks like that the company has made a same deal with Pakistani authorities.
With the current turmoil in Pakistan, authorities have demanded access to services, such as BES email and Blackberry Messenger (BBM). In July, the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) inculcated all telecom operators to cease Blackberry servers due to security apprehensions. The services were meant to stop working after November 30; but, the cessation was extended till December 30.
CEO John Chen went on record to state that:
“A balance between privacy and giving government access has to be found; the said situation is analogous to the current scenario. For now, Blackberry users in Pakistan will resume using the services without the fear of a disconnection.”
A proposal in this regard has been disseminated to government investors and final decision will be taken soon, however BES is unlikely to be suspended in the country.
Also Read: BlackBerry Postpones it’s Exit from Pakistan