Earlier in 2015, the government of Pakistan had demanded that officials of BlackBerry provide access through a backdoor to BlackBerry’s encryption to all private data transmitted via BlackBerry servers by the users. Such a measure would have enabled the government to view content sent by any person, at any point in time without any discrimination. BlackBerry obviously refused, and officials from the Pakistan government responded telling BlackBerry that it could take till the end of 2015 to comply or cease to operate in the country.
In November last, BlackBerry had announced its departure from Pakistan and therefore a recent announcement from the company stating that it had reached an agreement with the Pakistani government to continue operations in the current year, came as a surprise. The demand for backdoor access to encryption from the Pakistani government is not a unique action though it now appears that they have rescinded the demand for data, for now at least. Marty Beard, the Chief Operating Officer for BlackBerry, announced the decision from Pakistan to rescind the earlier order that could have in effect kicked the company out of the country.
Most of the data sought by the Pakistani government involved BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) which is used generally by governmental, corporate, and military email as well as instant messenger needs. Beard added that BlackBerry was “grateful” to the government of Pakistan Telecom Authority for their understanding of the company’s unwillingness to allow access to BES data. If the government had not rescinded the earlier order, the company was determined to cease its operations in the country in entirety. Beard added earlier in 2015 “That is a compromise we are not willing to make.”
This is however not the first time that BlackBerry found itself in crossfire with foreign governments. Several other nations have held out similar threats to the company for its refusal to part with the data requested.
However, BlackBerry stated recently that it would provide access to the servers under certain conditions. He added that company would be willing to part with private user information to law enforcement agencies under emergency situations.