The government will not suspend BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) from December 30, as the company has partially agreed to government’s conditions, we’ve confirmed from well placed sources.
Sources said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and BlackBerry have made formal contact and agreed to resolve the access issue through negotiations and discussions have been held in this regard. BES has given its consent to assist the government on legal matters.
A proposal in this regard has been circulated to government stakeholders and final decision will be taken shortly, however BES is unlikely to be suspended in the country.
The government had earlier decided to stop the BES due to security concerns, as conversation under BES could not be decoded. Currently the monitoring system in Pakistan could not keep check on the BES.
Officials said that BlackBerry has allowed access to its communication services in many countries. It is a legal requirement and government wants to monitor all BES traffic in the country.
The Indian government and BlackBerry had also disagreement on monitoring, intercepting calls and messages made using BlackBerry devices. In 2013, the issue resolved, probably after BlackBerry agreed to some of the demands made by the Indian government.
In a statement issued at that time, BlackBerry had said
BlackBerry has delivered a solution that enables India’s wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for our consumer messaging services, which include BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Internet Service email. The access to BlackBerry services is also allowed in most of the gulf countries including UAE and Saudi Arabia.
PTA in July had demanded access to BES, which encrypt data such as emails and instant messages, or shut it down by Nov 30. Citing security concerns PTA had also directed the mobile operators to stop offering BES to its customers after November 30, 2015. PTA had informed the cellular operators through a letter to give 90 days of notice to the customers before closing the services. According to official sources there are around 4,500 to 6,000 customers using BES in the country.
On November 30, 2015, BlackBerry announced its exit from Pakistan for too much pressure from Pakistani government for backdoor access.
However PTA has given a one month extension to BlackBerry for further discussion on how it will allow Pakistani government access to its communication services. After the extension from Pakistani government, BlackBerry stated on its website:
Government of Pakistan has notified BlackBerry that it has extended its shutdown order from November 30 to December 30. BlackBerry will delay its exit from the Pakistan market until then.