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BlackBerry won't be leaving Pakistan after all

BlackBerry won't be leaving Pakistan after all


Company says it will continue operating after Pakistani government withdraws demands for data access

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BlackBerry has decided to continue operating in Pakistan, abandoning a plan to withdraw from the country after the government demanded backdoor access to user data. In a blog post published last week, chief operating officer Marty Beard said that the Pakistani government rescinded an order to shut down BlackBerry services following "productive discussions" between the two parties.

The Pakistani government issued the shutdown order in July 2015, citing "security reasons." On November 30th, BlackBerry announced it would be withdrawing from the country because the government demanded access to BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) emails and BBM chats, which it described as "a compromise we are not willing to make." The company was originally ordered to shutdown on November 30th, but had its deadline pushed back to December 30th. BlackBerry has been reported to have up to 5,000 BES customers in Pakistan.

A sudden u-turn

In last week's blog post, Beard suggested that Pakistani authorities capitulated to BlackBerry's resistance. "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’ BES traffic, nor will we provide access to our BES servers," he wrote.

BlackBerry has been less resilient when faced with government demands for user data in other countries. In 2013, company provided the Indian government with real-time access to emails, BBM chats, and browsing habits of its internet services customers, and has reportedly reached data sharing agreements with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.