ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that Pakistani government plans to block BlackBerry Ltd’s secure messaging services by December 1, 2015 due to some security reasons.
Canadian handset manufacturer’s customers in the country can continue using internet on their phones as the decision will not affect BlackBerry’s Internet Services (BIS) in the country.
PTA made a similar attempt 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.
According to Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson of PTA,“The decision to block the BES was taken on the directives of the interior ministry due to security reasons.”
“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 further added.
This step was taken because 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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