Due to 'security reasons', BlackBerry's enterprise services to be banned in Pakistan

Published: July 24, 2015
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IB chief says the individuals in contact with these missions also monitored. PHOTO: AFP

IB chief says the individuals in contact with these missions also monitored. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: After reviewing security aspects of BlackBerry’s secure Enterprise Services (BES), the Ministry of Interior on Friday decided to block the service in Pakistan, issuing directives to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to implement the decision from December 1, 2015.

The decision, however, will not affect BlackBerry’s Internet Services (BIS) in the country, which would allow the Canadian handset manufacturer’s customers in the country to continue using internet on their phones.

The move follows a similar attempt by the PTA almost four years ago in 2011 when it blocked BlackBerry services in Pakistan as part of its measures to block access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other websites which allegedly hosted blasphemous material. BES was also suspended in the country for what it claimed were security reasons.

PTA has also sent letters to cellular operators directing the mobile phone companies to ensure that there is no BES connection active after November 30, 2015.

“The decision to block the BES was taken on the directives of the interior ministry due to security reasons,” said Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson of PTA while talking to The Express Tribune.

He said that the regulator had given enough time to the consumers so that they could convert their communication mechanism to other services. “There was a challenge that the Blackberry email service could not be tracked or decoded, which leads to the security reasons,” he explained.

“There are few users of this service whose number would not be more than 4,000 to 5,000 in Pakistan”, said Mehran. He further said that while this service remains active in other countries, they were not facing security problems the likes of which Pakistan was facing.

BES is mostly used by the corporate sector to exchange private emails in an encrypted format preventing their scrutiny.  For BES, the company operates the server and usually has it sitting somewhere within the corporate network. The IT department controls all aspects of the BES server, and its likely sitting in a secure location within data centre.

The move comes in the wake of a report by Privacy International which claims that security organisations in Pakistan sought to setup an electronic eavesdropping network along the lines of the National Security Agency. The country’s premier spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) recently told the Supreme Court that it was tapping over 6,000 phones as recent as May 2015.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Zeeshan
    Jul 24, 2015 - 10:14PM

    What a stupid decision by PTA instead of rAising there standard they just banned stuff they can’t handle PTA should kick out the sifarishi element Everything will be fine then.Recommend

  • irfan
    Jul 24, 2015 - 10:33PM

    PTA should ask BES to provide the decoding system like they did to India.Recommend

  • Jul 24, 2015 - 11:04PM

    Blackberry has its text messages encoded. and no cellular company in Pakistan can read those messages. So terrorists can send information to each other and our security agencies can’t know what is the message.Recommend

  • aamir
    Jul 25, 2015 - 12:16AM

    @Babar Khan Javed : not text mesages only data of BBM and BB emails are secured.Recommend

  • nk
    Jul 25, 2015 - 12:36AM

    these are bandaid solutions that will do nothing to curb the “security threat”. Mainly corporate clients use blackberry, and all this new rule is doing is inconveniencing them. these terrorists have thousands of other ways to send information securely. many many many other services that are way more accessible than BES are out there. with BES atleast there is a trace of who you are because it requires a connection form an operator. with other services PTA wouldn’t even do that. whats next? banning email? banning encrypted wireless networks? banning iphones?Recommend

  • Robby
    Jul 25, 2015 - 4:14AM

    Back to the stonage.Recommend

  • Saad Nazim
    Jul 25, 2015 - 5:09AM

    Bravo!!! I can’t wait for this Government to ban itself for being an absolute hazard to this region and country. Recommend

  • najeeb shah
    Jul 25, 2015 - 10:02AM

    lol liberal idiots , its a threat to security simple as that , stop moaning over it Recommend

  • s j Tubrazy
    Jul 26, 2015 - 12:20AM

    Having expertise in cyber laws my opinion is, in fact the laws like Investigation for Fair Trial Act 2013 and Pakistan Protection Act 2014 required a procedure where every service provider under obligation to keep the digital record of communication and provide to law enforcement agency on demand. These laws required a strict mechanism for surveillance and interception of electronic / digital interaction. So companies like Black Barry etc have to block as their communication have strong encryption and local companies could keep the record or decrypt of that e-communication.Recommend

  • Arqam
    Jul 28, 2015 - 7:59PM

    Is bbm going to be banned or the text message service?Recommend

  • Numan Latif
    Aug 9, 2015 - 8:03AM

    can someone explain …. i only use 3G … facebook whatsapp ..surf a little internet … txt messages b/w frnx… is all this banned n my Z30 is dead … or not Recommend

  • anonymous
    Oct 15, 2015 - 11:42AM

    @Babar Khan Javed:
    so the solution is to ban the service? Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Dec 6, 2015 - 3:14AM

    would i still be able to use my regular sim card with my blackberry? or i should throw my 30000 in trash???Recommend

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