Finding the balance between data surveillance and protecting user privacy is an ongoing process, but Blackberry has just chosen to take a stand for the latter. The company has decided to pull operations from Pakistan after demands from their Telecommunications Authority for unrestricted access to Blackberry Enterprise Services. The Pakistani government was basically asking for a “backdoor” to access encrypted message and emails sent or received within Pakistan. Blackberry not only refused to cooperate with the demands in Pakistan but has also stated that they will not submit to any demands for unrestricted “backdoor” access in any country.

While protecting user privacy is important, ensuring safety of citizens sometimes requires governments to conduct data surveillance. Blackberry has stated that these demands from Pakistani government do not fall under the realm of public safety. Rather, “Pakistan was essentially demanding unfettered access to all of our BES customers’ information,” explained Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard. In the blog post Beard released explaining Blackberry’s withdrawal from Pakistan, he stated that while Blackberry is more than willing to assist with law enforcement’s investigations when a crime has been committed, it won’t grant companies “backdoor” access. This shouldn’t come as a shock; Blackberry has displayed that security is a main priority in their interactions with other governments and businesses.

Blackberry has now shown how they will react to requests for access to their customers’ digital data, but they won’t be the only company having to decide how to protect user privacy. As governments decide how important access to encrypted data is to national security, other companies may be faced with tough decisions concerning their positions in the surveillance versus privacy debate.


Article via CNET, November 30, 2015

Photo: Blackberry Bold via johncatral [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]