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Blackberry Cellphones Communications Encryption Government Handhelds Privacy

BlackBerry Exits Pakistan Amid User Privacy Concerns (blackberry.com) 71

An anonymous reader writes: BlackBerry has announced that it will pull its operations in Pakistan from today, quoting a recent government notice which read that the company would not be permitted to continue its services in the country after December for 'security reasons.' In a blog post released by BlackBerry today, chief operating officer Marty Beard confirmed the decision: 'The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message.' He added: 'BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive.'
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BlackBerry Exits Pakistan Amid User Privacy Concerns

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  • Hooray (Score:4, Interesting)

    by messymerry ( 2172422 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @08:07AM (#51025843)
    Hooray for Blackberry. I wish more corporations had a even tiny little smidgen of ethics. Oh, and stop calling me an effing "consumer"!!! Corporations work for the banks nowadays. That is their "customer".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I suspect their "smidgen of ethics" is a convenient excuse to pull out of a market in which they don't make money. Where there's money to be made, ethics usually go out the window.

      • I suspect their "smidgen of ethics" is a convenient excuse to pull out of a market in which they don't make money. Where there's money to be made, ethics usually go out the window.

        Their smidgen of ethics is even smaller than you fear. Blackberry isn't pulling out of the Pakistani market, they are being thrown out. Reuters reported back in July already that Pakistan was giving private telecoms the deadline of November 30th to shutdown all BES systems.

        Oh, and if that didn't squish their ethical stand enough, the blog post has an update since the summary was written. Pakistan moved the deadline to December 30th and Blackberry is happily staying in the country till then now...

        But freedom

    • actually, that is a good business model. evil governmental bastards want to auto-censor every byte on the web, abandon that putrid nation. it will push the people one step closer to overthrowing the rotten dictators.

  • I always found Blackberry to be the most secure as far as mobile devices go.

    They were also the only devices that worked during the 9/11 attacks.
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Monday November 30, 2015 @08:12AM (#51025875)

    ... is that they only had 7 paying customers in Pakistan. ... Or something like that.
    Nice PR move anyway - shame it's so blatantly obvious.

    • by Zarjazz ( 36278 )

      Agreed. What he meant to say was "BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive ... unless it makes economic sense to do so"

  • Ironic after BB said they'd allow the US government a back door into all the new telephone encryption.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Phone access != BES access.

      They may not give 2 shits about you or your privacy but they sure give a shit about their BES deployments. As the first comment pointed out, WE aren't their customers. Corporations spending millions on BES are their customers. Selling backdoored *phones* is a core part of their business model to go right along with BES. So yes, they are happy to give LEO the same backdoor access your IT manager has but they won't give out the keys to the kingdom for BES.

      • Phone access != BES access.

        They may not give 2 shits about you or your privacy but they sure give a shit about their BES deployments. As the first comment pointed out, WE aren't their customers. Corporations spending millions on BES are their customers. Selling backdoored *phones* is a core part of their business model to go right along with BES. So yes, they are happy to give LEO the same backdoor access your IT manager has but they won't give out the keys to the kingdom for BES.

        This!

        Pakistan was in love with Blackberry for the longest time for exactly this reason because they liked having a central BES server to make the job of the ISI easier to collect everyone's communications. Then back in July Pakistan announced [reuters.com] it was kicking Blackberry out of the country, by November 30th(today).

        From what I've followed of Pakistani news it looks like this was the flow of things. The Pakistani government spent a long time requiring anybody in government or important had to run Blackberry on the government controlled BES server so that everyone could be watched. Since GW Bush gave them his cowboy speech, their military government relaxed things a bit and gave civilian government control back again for the first meaningful length of time in the country's history. During that time the civilian government also liked keeping tabs on everyone, but also opened up telecoms ability to do their own thing. This led to telecoms running their own private BES systems. The Taliban then had an affordable encrypted communications channel that they could use for planning attacks on Pakistani cities. It's even odds whether the Taliban or civilian use of the private BES systems was the REAL reason the government decided to crack down, but Pakistan announced it's decision back in July that Blackberry had gone from golden boy to unwelcome and would be banned from use by the country's private ISP's today.

        In short, Blackberry would like to spin this as them taking a stand, but it's really just them losing a big customer.

  • All BB devices will just stop working in Pakistan, today? Do the owners get refunds?
    At least, how else will the company stop all Service traffic in the country, other then to stop the traffic.

    This actually seems worse that just complying. At least you would have a working device, and they could plaster the "send message" screen with warnings about the government reading all your messages.

  • So privacy for business, but not for us plebs? http://www.bbc.com/news/techno... [bbc.com]

  • 'BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive' ...in Pakistan.
    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      Since the NSA negotiated their contract first, they were able to get an exclusivity clause in there.
  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @08:59AM (#51026075)

    ...it's practically welcomed and encouraged, as demonstrated by the COO of Blackberry practically bragging about their new "lawful device interception" features a week ago.

    You either shun state-sponsored surveillance or you embrace it. Make up your fucking mind already before you attempt another RIM job with the 17 customers you have left.

    • In the US, that law expired as of today. Authorities would have to get a warrant before they can go after any interception.

      In Pakistan's case, they wanted a carte blanche access to ALL BES data. India, by contrast, does that selectively.

  • Isn't that one of the few regions where Blackberry still has market share?
  • There was this [slashdot.org] story just the other day. So they have the ability to decrypt everything, they just won't do it in bulk.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Blackberry has always caved to government demands for unrestricted access to their network in the past. The USA, Saudi Arabia and many others. That is one reason a lot of businesses dropped them as a provider. So what's different now?

  • It's nice of Blackberry to try and spin this as a positive that they've decided to pull the plug on Pakistan, today on November 30th. Reuters however reported on the 24th of July 2015 that the Pakistani government was moving to shut Blackberry out of the country by November 30th [reuters.com].

    This is much more an effort on Blackberry's part to try and spin a loss of a major business customer than it is Blackberry actually takign any manner of morale stand.

  • How is this any different from the arrangement the Indian government required?

    http://www.yro.slashdot.org/st... [slashdot.org]

    • How is this any different from the arrangement the Indian government required?

      http://www.yro.slashdot.org/st... [slashdot.org]

      The difference is that Blackberry isn't taking a moral stand against Pakistan either. Pakistan decided as of July that Blackberry would be banned from use by private ISP's within Pakistan, and today was the deadline. Pakistan may or may not continue running all government phones over their own BES system, but nobody in the country is allowed to do it privately any more.

      Blackberry is just trying to spin a loss as anything else.

    • From the article that you cited:

      The initial demands of the government also included the ability to intercept and monitor emails and messages sent using BlackBerry Enterprise Server, but it seems that this demand have been shelved for now."

      As was pointed out in one of the comments there, RIM gave India exactly what it gives any other government: any authorized/lawful request for information is provided, but RIM cannot hand over control of BES, which is what the Indian government initially wanted. Finally, when they realized it, they agreed to what RIM provided, but made a big face-saving splash in the media to make it look like they had won a big victory over an evil Western company.

  • 'The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message.' He added: 'BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive.'

    What he really means:

    BlackBerry won't comply with the Pakistani's demands because we figured it would damage our reputation way more than it's worth. Let's face it, Pakistan has no money and their government is a joke. This way we get to shout about our integrity from the mountaintops and surf on the wave of backlash against government surveillance. It also gives us a fig leaf against accusations that we might be cooperating with the alphabet soup agencies that are actually serious about spying on their citizens.

    Just don't ask any impertinent questions about their relationship with the real powers that be.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @03:34PM (#51029185)

    It's because it's Pakistan asking. They had some qualms when India first asked, but granted them access eventually.

    http://thenextweb.com/asia/201... [thenextweb.com]

  • i wish Barack would pull operations from Pakistan! Here's what he did while we were having a government "shut down" due to lack of funds: http://www.usatoday.com/story/... [usatoday.com]

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