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BlackBerry Goes Back On Seizing Pakistan Operations After ‘Productive Discussions’ With The Government

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BlackBerry is not exiting Pakistan after all, announced the company’s chief operating officer Marty Beard. Making an official announcement in a blog post, Beard stated that BlackBerry has decided to reconsider its decision to stop its operations in the country following discussion with the Pakistani Government that have proved fruitful.

Beard wrote,

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’ BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) traffic, nor will we provide access to our BES servers. We look forward to serving the Pakistani market for years to come, including introducing new products and services, and thank our valued customers in Pakistan for their patience and loyalty.

Blackberry was ordered by the Pakistani government in July to cease all operations. The order came into effect after BlackBerry refused to provide access to the government to its BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) emails and BBM chats. A few months later, in November, BlackBerry boldly announced that it is ready to exit the country and will not provide access to information at any cost. The Pakistani government ordered the company to cease all operations by November 30 but then pushed the dates to December 30, 2015.

As per the statement from BlackBerry, the Pakistani government seems to have accepted the company’s stand and has revoked its order against the company. BlackBerry has faced similar issues in the past with various governments. The company had shared data relating to BBM chats, emails, and browser data with the Indian government in 2013. The company had also reached a consensus with Russian, UAE and the Saudi government to share vital data.

The Pakistani government has pulled tight security measures to monitor user data and has sought the aid of various telecom providers in its endeavour. The Canadian telecom company has close to 5,000 BES customers in Pakistan.

John Chen, BlackBerry CEO had called for the major tech companies to protect sensitive user information and safeguard user’s right to privacy. The CEO had pointed out in a blog post that other companies should take a cue from BlackBerry and take firm stance against governments which seek to monitor users.

Chen stated

One of the world’s most powerful tech companies recently refused a lawful access request in an investigation of a known drug dealer because doing so would ‘substantially tarnish the brand’ of the company. We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good.”

At BlackBerry, we understand, arguably more than any other large tech company, the importance of our privacy commitment to product success and brand value: privacy and security form the crux of everything we do. However, our privacy commitment does not extend to criminals.

Apple and Google had shown a similar stance against Governments which sought access to user data. The companies have implemented certain measures that prevents the governmental agencies to access user data from iPhones, iPads and Android devices without the permission of the user. Even Apple cannot directly access any devices running on iOS, therefore preventing a situation where in it might be forced to hand over sensitive information.


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