Tag: security blackberry

BlackBerry will remain in Pakistan after gov withdraws demands

The Canadian handset manufacturer had said it would step out of the country before revealing its customer data.

BlackBerry has now announced that it will be continuing its operations in Pakistan after the government of that country agreed to withdraw its demands that would require the company to hand over access to all its customer data.

The smartphone maker had developed a plan to leave Pakistan if the government continued the requirement.

Chief operating officer of BlackBerry, Marty Beard, explained in a blog post that the Pakistani government had now taken back its previous order to shut down the company’s services after the company and the government were able to complete “productive discussions”. The shutdown order was originally issued by the Pakistani government back in July 2015 when it said that “security reasons” were behind its decision. A few months later, on November 30, BlackBerry announced its decision to leave the country because it was unwilling to provide access to private customer information to the government.

The Pakistani government had demanded a vast range of backdoor access to BlackBerry customer information.

Blackberry - PakistanAmong the information that the company would have been required to hand over included access to BBM chats and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) emails. The smartphone manufacturer said this was “a compromise we are not willing to make.” The initial order from the government was that the company would have to shut down on November 30. However, that deadline was extended to December 30.

According to the company, there are up to 5,000 BES customers currently in Pakistan. It reported through Beard’s blog post that the authorities in Pakistan yielded to the resistance the company had placed against the demands for access to customer information and records. He wrote that “We are grateful to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Pakistani government for accepting BlackBerry’s position that we cannot provide the content of our customers’ BES traffic, nor will we provide access to our BES servers.”

BlackBerry has not always been as driven or successful in the face of requirements from other national governments for access to user data. For example, in 2013, it gave access to the Indian government. It was able to view emails, BBM chats and internet service customer browsing habits. Reportedly, the company has also established data sharing agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

BlackBerry sticks to its mobile security and privacy stand, despite pressure in Pakistan

The company has said that it would prefer to leave that country than to open its servers to authorities there.

BlackBerry Ltd. has announced that it will be placing its previous intentions to withdraw from its Pakistan operations on hold for the moment but that it will stand firm when it comes to maintaining the mobile security and privacy of its customers.

It continues to say that it will step out of its Pakistan operations if authorities there continue to demand access to its data.

The authorities in Pakistan have been demanding “unfettered” access to all of the customer data stored on the company’s BES servers. BlackBerry has been refusing to comply with these demands and had intended to close up its business there. While it has now said that it is delaying its withdrawal, it has added that it is not changing its position when it comes to the mobile security and personal and business privacy of its customers.

The Canadian smartphone maker has said that it will keep up its mobile security and Pakistan operations until December 30.

Mobile Security - BlackberryThis extension is the outcome of a compliance extension that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority issued to its original order that was created in July. The company had already been saying that it would not breach the privacy of its customers on the BES servers and that it would leave Pakistan rather than comply with the demands being made by those authorities. It had been required to provide full access to the server content of its BlackBerry Enterprise Service by November 30, though this has been extended by another month.

While it did say that it would be willing to work with the authorities in Pakistan in order to ensure that public safety remains protected, but that the mobile security and privacy of its customers are at the highest priority to BlackBerry and that it won’t give in or even compromise when it comes to opening up all access to the authorities in the country.

Marty Beard, the BlackBerry operations chief, explained that the company does know that it is vitally important to cooperate with a government’s lawful information request when it comes to detecting criminal activity, but that it never has and never will simply open up complete access to BlackBerry’s service.