Pakistan to block BlackBerry's BES

28 Jul 2015
Daily News

Pakistan will block BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) in the nation, citing national security reasons related to the difficulty decrypting and eavesdropping content sent over the BlackBerry e-mail service.

A spokesperson for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority told the Express Tribune that access to the service will be blocked from December 1.

The regulator has written to mobile operators advising them to ensure there are no active BES connections in the nation after November 30.

According to the spokesperson the decision to block the service was taken based on directives from the Ministry of the Interior, which has complained that messages sent over BES could not be decoded and tracked, making it a national security issue.

Although only an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 Pakistanis use the BES service, mostly in the corporate sector, the decision is still a blow to privacy in the nation.

This is also not the first time BlackBerry services including BES have been suspended in the nation – services were suspended in 2011 as part of a crackdown on allegedly blasphemous material as well as due to security reasons.

Privacy International recently published a report claiming that security organizations in Pakistan have been attempting to set up a national electronic eavesdropping network. The Inter Services Intelligence agency has revealed that it was tapping over 6,000 phones as of May this year.

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