BlackBerry has announced that it will no longer operate in Pakistan as of December 30th because of government requests to monitor customer data, including every BES mail and BES BBM ( BlackBerry Messenger) message.
The company said in a blog post that it had decided to “exit the market altogether” because of the government’s demands. While the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) says that BlackBerry's BES servers would no longer be allowed to operate in the country because of “security reasons,” the Canadian company claims that the truth was Pakistan wanted “unfettered access” to all the traffic passing across its messaging servers.
Marty Beard, chief operating officer at BlackBerry, said the company does not support ‘backdoor access’ to customers’ information and has never done this anywhere in the world. "While we recognise the need to cooperate with lawful government investigative requests of criminal activity, we have never permitted wholesale access to our servers," he said.
The company had originally stated in the post that it would be leaving Pakistan on November 30th, but it later updated the statement after the government notified BlackBerry that the shutdown order had been extended to December 30th.
Although BlackBerry seems set on leaving the country, there are indications that the two sides may be working on a compromise. PTA spokesman Khurram Ali Mehran said the agency is still in contact with BlackBerry "to find out a solution.”
It’s not clear exactly how many business and consumer customers BlackBerry has in Pakistan, but it’s not thought to be a major revenue source for the company.
While BlackBerry’s stand against the Pakistani government’s snooping demands should be applauded, the company hasn’t always defied national agencies who want to spy on citizens. BlackBerry finally caved in and gave Indian government officials access to data from BBM and BIS in 2013, and the company is thought to have helped Russia and China to monitor users’ e-mails in 2007 and 2008 respectively.