BlackBerry to bug out of Pakistan by end of year

Crypto comms outfit hits eject after govt backdoor demand

Blackberry will pull out of Pakistan on New Year's Eve in protest of its government's demand to intercept and decrypt people's communications.

The Canadian company refuses to open what it considers a backdoor in its BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES).

Pakistan's Telecommunication Authority in July asked BlackBerry and other mobile operators in the country to open up encrypted services to its intelligence agencies meaning that the BES would be booted from 30 December unless it was compliant.

"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," chief operating officer Marty Beard says.

"That is a compromise we are not willing to make.

"The truth is that the Pakistani Government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES email and BES BBM (BlackBerry Message) but BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive."

The ban was extended overnight by one month to 30 December. It is not known if this is intended to sway BlackBerry but the company appears to be prepared to leave.

Beard says the company has not granted any Government backdoor-like access.

It has, however, assisted law enforcement in other ways. Decrypted BlackBerry messages were provided to British police during the 2011 London Riots. ®


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