BlackBerry confirm they are leaving Pakistan from December 1

UPDATE:  BlackBerry will delay shutting down its operations in Pakistan until December 30 as negotiations continue over government demands for access to users’ private data, the company and the telecoms authority said on Monday.

The PTA has suggested a one-month extension to the original November 30 deadline, its chairman Syed Ismail Shah said.

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

BlackBerry also confirmed it will delay its exit from the Pakistan market until December 30.

Back in July of this year, we reported how In Pakistan, the Ministry of Interior in Pakistan had taken the decision to block BlackBerry’s secure Enterprise Services (BES), issuing directives to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to implement the decision from 1st December 1, 2015.

At the time,  Pakistan Telecommunications Authority had said that all BlackBerry services, including Enterprise Services, could continue in Pakistan if the cellular companies provide law enforcement agencies access to its BES services.

“It is a wrong perception that PTA is going to ban BlackBerry services in the country. Instead we have been asking the company to provide us access to its secure Enterprise Services (BES) for many years, and now finally, we have issued them notice that if they don’t provide us access to BES data, in the next 90 days, we will block BES services, in the country”

Sources had confirmed that if companies complied with government demand, its BES services would be allowed to continue.

Marty Beard, Chief Operating Officer at BlackBerry, has now taken to the BlackBerry Blog to explain why BlackBerry is leaving Pakistan.

Beard confirmed what we expected back in Ku;y 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.

This is what he had to say:

“After November 30, BlackBerry will no longer operate in Pakistan. While we regret leaving this important market and our valued customers there, remaining in Pakistan would have meant forfeiting our commitment to protect our users’ privacy. That is a compromise we are not willing to make.

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.”

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.

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.

What we said in July when rumors of Pakistan’s decision started to swirl remains true today: “BlackBerry provides the world’s most secure communications platform to government, military and enterprise customers. Protecting that security is paramount to our mission. While we recognize the need to cooperate with lawful government investigative requests of criminal activity, we have never permitted wholesale access to our BES servers.”

BlackBerry’s focus will remain on protecting corporate, government and military communications throughout the world, including in South Asia and the Middle East, wherever our technology operates. Although the Pakistani government’s directive was aimed only at our BES servers, we have decided to exit the market altogether, because Pakistan’s demand for open access to monitor a significant swath of our customers’ communications within its borders left us no choice but to exit the country entirely.”

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