Did you know that some Countries have Law Enforcement Authorities that demand access to customer communications on all telecommunication networks from even privacy focused companies like BlackBerry? This would mean that there will be no privacy when you send stuff from your phone. There will be someone hired to monitor all your texts, emails and whatever activity is happening on your mobile phone. How would you feel if you were to be monitored all the time? This would feel very awkward, right? Yes!
Pakistan is one of the Countries that are demanding to have access to all customer data in the country. They are so serious that they recently kicked Blackberry out after denying access to the Authorities to be able to monitor its traffic. Governments argue that access to customer communications is necessary to catch criminals.
Earlier this year, Pakistan ordered Blackberry to be out by Nov 30 however that date has now been extended to Dec 30. Before this the Pakistani Government went as far as asking three telecom Companies to cease offering Blackberry’s encrypted messaging services that are managed and offered by Blackberry’s Enterprise server. Perhaps if the messaging services were not encrypted the Pakistani Government would not have kicked Blackberry out. Apparently they do not want Blackberry to operate in Pakistan due to security reasons.
This should have been a difficult decision for Blackberry itself to make. When you are in business, most of the time you are in Business to make money. When Blackberry was approached with this request they could have compromised their Customers privacy by giving a backdoor to the Pakistani Government. Blackberry instead said no to back doors and decided to leave all the business behind.
Blackberry has got a policy that does not support backdoors to any country in the world. In many occasions, they have always referred to this policy but in this specific incident they decided to let actions speak louder than words. They showed that they are committed to protecting their user’s privacy. Blackberry’s chief operating officer Marty Beard said that the Pakistani Government wanted unfiltered access to all emails, BBM messages and other Blackberry Enterprise (BES) services but they refused on principle. Company believes that they have a better approach to back doors than most of their competitors.
Did Blackberry do the right thing?
For customers, this is a huge relieve to know that there is a company that stands up for customer’s privacy and that is Blackberry. They did not look at the amount of money they were to make from the Pakistani Market. They simply refused to compromise and mutually agreed to leave. What will happen to the People that were using Blackberry services? What if all the Telecommunication companies decide to leave Pakistan due to this open communications demand by the Government? Only time will tell. Does it mean that the other companies that are still operating in Pakistan are compromising their Customers privacy? Blackberry offered to assist the law enforcement agencies in investigations of criminal activity, but that was not enough. The Pakistani Government wanted it all!