BlackBerry has decided to exit Pakistan after the Canadian company refused to give the government “unfettered access” to its user data. The Pakistani government had sought the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) traffic in the country, including the BBM messages and BES emails. The Canadian company was initially supposed to exit the market on Nov.30, but the government of Pakistan has extended its shutdown order from Nov.30 to Dec.30, 2015.
PTA had sought to block BES
BlackBerry COO Marty Beard said in a statement that Islamabad’s demand to monitor all the customers’ communications within its borders left the company with “no choice but to exit the country” altogether. Beard said the company was not willing to compromise on its commitment to protect users’ privacy. In July, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) had notified all the telecom operators that BlackBerry’s BES servers would not be allowed to operate in Pakistan from Dec.1 for “security reasons.”
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Though the PTA had sought to block only BES, the Canadian company has decided to shut down its entire operation in the country, including the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS). The PTA officials told Dawn that the Canadian company had refused to cooperate in accordance with the National Action Plan formulated last year after deadly terrorist attacks in Peshawar that killed about 150 innocent children.
BlackBerry has less than 5,000 BES customers in Pakistan
The Waterloo-based company said it was “more than happy” to help security agencies in investigations of criminal activity. But Pakistan’s demand went far beyond public safety as the country demanded “unfettered access to all of our BES customers’ information.” Marty Beard reiterated that the company will never support “back doors” granting access to customers’ private information.
Though BlackBerry’s market share has declined rapidly in the past few years, large enterprises and foreign missions still rely on BES. Apple and Android vendors have also started eating into BlackBerry’s share in the enterprise market. According to Dawn, the Canadian company had about 4,000 to 5,000 customers in Pakistan, which isn’t a major revenue source for the company.