BlackBerry Cancels Plan To Exit Pakistan After Government Drops Monitoring Request

Beleaguered phone maker BlackBerry has u-turned on its decision to exit Pakistan after it claimed it had struck an agreement with authorities over previous demands for access to user data.

The Canadian firm announced a plan to withdraw from the South Asian country in November in response to the Pakistani government’s apparent demand for access to data held with the BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) for corporate customers. That exit date was pushed back from November 30 to December 30 discussions, and then, in a blog post on December 31, BlackBerry explained that it would be staying on in Pakistan.

From the company’s post:

After productive discussions, the Government of Pakistan has rescinded its shutdown order, and BlackBerry has decided to remain in the Pakistan market.

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.

Pakistan is a market known for a heavy-handed approach to data monitoring, so this about-face is somewhat expected.

BlackBerry prides itself on secure storage of data, but in the past it has made concessions in this area. It previously granted authorities access to data from BBM and BIS in 2013, while it was reported to have wavered on its stance in order to do business in Russia and China in 2007 and 2008 respectively.