If you live in Pakistan, you’re in for some bad news. As from the 30th December 2015, BlackBerry will no longer be available in your country.
The news was announced by Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard, who cited privacy concerns as the reason for the exit.
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.
Earlier this year the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority banned BlackBerry’s Enterprise Services (BES), ostensibly for security reasons. Pakistani mobile network operators had until the 30th November to shut down access to BES, but the deadline was extended to the 30th December.
BlackBerry’s decision to pull out from the market altogether means the deadline is now irrelevant.
User privacy in Pakistan is a serious issue
Quitting Pakistan is an extreme decision, but it isn’t entirely surprising. After all, data security is one of the cornerstones of the BlackBerry brand.
The international community has been concerned about privacy issues in Pakistan for quite a while. In 2013, UK-based Privacy International reported that the Pakistani authorities were trying to put a mass surveillance system in place. The system would collect data on all electronic communications made in the country.