BlackBerry in Karachi? Not After Dec. 30


Blackberry would rather quit Pakistan than give the government access to its customers’ communications traffic.


The company announced Nov. 30 that it will no longer operate in Pakistan after Dec. 30, 2015.

“The Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country,” BlackBerry said. The company said it won’t comply because it doesn’t support “back doors” that grant access to customer information.

In July 2015, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority banned Blackberry’s Enterprise Services (BES) for “security reasons.” The PTA ordered the country’s mobile phone network operators to shut down access to BES by Nov. 30 but has since extended the deadline to Dec. 30.

Although the order only concerned BES servers, BlackBerry said it decided to exit the Pakistani market altogether based on the government’s demand for open access to monitor customers’ communications.

Shortly before the July 2015 ban was announced, the U.K.-based nonprofit advocacy group Privacy International, which promotes right-to-privacy issues around the world, published a report on security and surveillance in Pakistan. The report found that, in 2013, Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s military-operated intelligence agency, sought to develop a mass surveillance system to collect communications travelling within and through the country.

Meanwhile, U.S. telephone surveillance has been under a spotlight following revelations that the government has secretly amassed data on billions of calls.

In that evolving issue, privacy rights were dealt a blow in August, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the National Security Agency’s surveillance program may proceed, vacating a preliminary injunction.

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