BlackBerry Ltd Nears Government Deal, May Not Leave Pakistan

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BlackBerry is said to be working on a deal with the Pakistani government. Citing unnamed sources, a report from ProPakistani claims there are chances that the Canadian firm may not leave Pakistan.

BlackBerry faced a similar situation in India

Citing sources aware of the matter, the publication claims the Canadian firm has partially accepted the government’s terms, but nothing has been revealed as yet. It can be expected that the company will never grant a backdoor to user data, but it is believed to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

BlackBerry had a similar arrangement in many countries, including the UAE and India. Under such an arrangement, the company hands over user information only if it is served with a valid warrant. In India, authorities asked the company to allow it to monitor and intercept calls and messages made using its devices. In 2013, the issue was reportedly resolved after the Canadian firm agreed to some of the conditions of Indian authorities.

At that time, the Canadian firm said it had “delivered a solution that enables India’s wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for our consumer messaging services,” including BBM and BlackBerry’s Internet Service email.

Pakistani government asking for backdoor access

Previously, BlackBerry was said to be planning to discontinue all its operations in Pakistan due to a tussle with the government over data privacy. The Canadian firm said that the government asked it to allow backdoor access to BES user data.

The Pakistani government gave the phone maker an ultimatum to either comply with its demands or end all operations in the country. BlackBerry choose the second option, and its decision to protect privacy was lauded by many at a time when surveillance and encryption are burning issues.

Pakistani authorities asked for a backdoor to services like BES and BBM owing to the ongoing turbulence in the region. In July, the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) asked all telecom operators to end their support for Blackberry servers for security reasons. Initially, the Canadian firm’s services were supposed to end on Nov. 30, but later it got a one-month extension to Dec. 30.

BlackBerry has been open about its privacy stance, especially after the Paris terrorist attack. Recently, CEO John Chen criticized other tech firms (mainly Apple) for their stance on privacy and asked for a balance between privacy and government access.

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