Even though Pakistan remains an important mobile market, BlackBerry has announced that they will be formally withdrawing from the country. This development has come about as a result of Pakistan’s government insisting that BlackBerry grant them backdoor access to encrypted services earlier this year.
BlackBerry is a company that touts the value of security pretty vocally. The CEO even said that the BlackBerry Priv was given its name in-part because it was short for “Privacy.” In an era in which companies seem more than willing to fold on their values for financial gain, it’s encouraging to see BlackBerry’s unconditional refusal. The company has taken a firm stance on the side of their users’ personal privacy, and the Pakistani government wasn’t thrilled.
When BlackBerry refused to comply, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority commanded carriers in the region to shut down BlackBerry’s Enterprise Service by the end of 2015 for “security reasons.” The ultimatum is that Pakistan will allow service to continue only if the government gains free access to emails and BBM messages flowing through Enterprise.
What happens when an unrelenting force encounters an immovable object? The answer is: a lot of very disappointed Pakistani BlackBerry users. BlackBerry says that, while they would be willing to grant limited access to law enforcement agencies for use in investigations, what the Pakistani government is demanding is a bridge too far.
With the NSA recently ceasing bulk collection of data from US smartphones, this is a second win for privacy in as many days. A change in the winds, perhaps? We can all hope. As information becomes more and more available and valuable, security and freedom from government surveillance are both becoming issues of immense import.
What are your thoughts on this? A financial mistake on the part of BlackBerry, or an important statement to their user base regarding their commitment to privacy? Let us know in the comments!