The government of Pakistan has decided to ban the secure messaging service offered by Blackberry. They want to do away with encrypted messaging and other encrypted communication services in the country. Blackberry (BES) users can expect the service to be blocked in Pakistan be December of this year. You an expect Research in Motion (RIM) to stand firm. Encryption is the backbone of their Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) service which helps users around the world communicate securely. That will soon end in Pakistan by December of this year.
Last month we wrote about the new Blackberry Messenger (BBM) private chat feature. The company introduced a Privacy and Control bundle that helps users ensure that chats are private, schedule when to send messages and pictures, retract messages and images, and edit messages after that have already been sent. The new service costs $0.99 cents a month. I’m sure there will be a lot of Blackberry users happy to try out the new features. The service is also compatible with iOS and Android devices.
Why would Pakistan want to ban secure messaging from Blackberry or any company for that matter? The answer is surveillance. The Pakistani government wants the ability to monitor all communications in the country. By offering strong encryption Blackberry gives users a secure means of communicating. Like several other countries Pakistan wants to ban encryption for security reasons. They certainly aren’t alone as countries around the world try to strike a balance between security and privacy. At least that’s the line you will hear from politicians who want to ban encryption.
When you think about which countries would want to ban encryption Pakistan is a logical thought given their history. The same could be said for other countries like China. The list doesn’t stop there though as western governments including the United States, United Kingdom, and Netherlands are debating the topic as well. The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, wants to ban encryption. In light of the recent terrorist attacks the conversation has heated up again. You can expect the Snooper’s Bill to be revived later this year. A private messaging company headquartered in the UK is already threatening to leave the country in light of the proposed legislation.