BlackBerry Exits Pakistan to Avoid State's E-Mail Monitoring

Updated on
  • Pakistan requested to monitor all e-mails and messages
  • Waterloo-based company to stop operations Monday, COO says

BlackBerry Ltd. said it’s shutting its Pakistan operations to avoid allowing authorities in the nation to monitor its main business enterprise server and e-mail messages.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority notified the country’s mobile phone operators in July that BlackBerry’s BES servers would no longer be allowed to operate for security reasons, Marty Beard, chief operating officer at BlackBerry, said in a blog post on Monday. “The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BES traffic.”

The regulator is still in talks with BlackBerry and "hopefully it’ll be sorted out," Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman S. Ismail Shah said by phone. The discussions will go on for a month and could be extended, he said.

Since taking over in 2013, BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer John Chen has been working on shifting focus to higher-margin software sales as handset sales remain challenged. There are as many as 5,000 BES customers in Pakistan, the Dawn newspaper reported in July. The company will stop operations in Pakistan on Monday.