Blackberry Refuses to Give in to Pakistan’s Backdoor Request

Phone manufacturer Blackberry is withdrawing from the Pakistani market entirely after refusing to give in to the demand of backdoor access by the nation’s government. The request was to install a backdoor access to the company’s enterprise products.

Blackberry has refused to give in the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority’s request to install a backdoor for the company’s enterprise systems. A ban was issued earlier this summer by the Authority and was due to come into effect on November 30, today.

Before the restriction became active, advocacy group Privacy International issued a report that revealed the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s measures and efforts to gain unprecedented access. Comparing it to the National Security Agency, Privacy International issued a warning of the agency’s methods to gain surveillance capabilities in Pakistan, as reported by ArsTechnica.

Although the Pakistani government pushed the effective date of the banning order to the end of the year on December 30, Blackberry issued a statement today, their intentions clear in no uncertain terms. Blackberry CEO Marty beard made a statement via a blog post that the company would exit the country entirely.

He made light of the need to protect the company’s users’ privacy and preferred exiting the country rather than giving the government unrestricted access through a backdoor.

Speaking of the decision, Beard began by noting:

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.

What came after was particularly revealing, as Beard explained precisely what the country’s Government was demanding Blackberry to do:

The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message. But BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive.

As we have said many times, we do not support “back doors” granting open access to our customers’ information and have never done this anywhere in the world.

The Canadian company still has time to work out their concerns with the deadline pushed till the end of the year, according to PTA chairman Syed Ismail Shah who said:

The level of access is still under discussion. We can extend the deadline and they can continue to work until then.