The Canadian smartphone and secure communication company BlackBerry is to pull out of Pakistan by the end of 2016 for security reasons.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued a notice stating that the company would not be allowed to operate BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) – that provides encrypted data and communications services to BlackBerry mobile phones, in the country from November, later delayed to December.
According to Blackberry, the Pakistani government asked for the ability to monitor its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message.
But Blackberry objected to the Pakistani government’s request referring this as granting “back doors” open access to customer’s information. The company also said that they haven’t done this in any other company 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.”
As a result, 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.”
BlackBerry also said that though the Pakistani government’s directive was aimed only at the BES servers, but the company has decided to exit the market altogether.
The company has faced similar problems in the past in India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. In 2010, BlackBerry services were banned within the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Bans were lifted in some states but with tightened restrictions.
However, BlackBerry was once prized above its competitors for its security in the US, supplying phones used by the US President, among other world leaders. In 2006, during a dispute with a patent-holding company, the US Department of Defense filed a brief stating that BlackBerry’s continuing presence in the US was crucial for national security because of the large number of government
BlackBerry has fallen on hard financial times in recent years. But fortunately for the company, Pakistan is a very small market, with up to 5,000 BES users and an insignificant share of the handset market as well.