Published on December 14th, 2010 | by Arsalan Mir3
BlackBerry Official Use – Banned
The year has not been going good for RIM (Research in Motion). The company has been negotiating troubles with governments around the globe. Read our summary of troubles in the region here.
In Pakistan, it was just a matter of content restriction post the Facebook Blasphemy issue in May 2010. Since then the services are limited on PTA’s instructions. Now after the running cable leaks – wikilieaks- which seems not to stop, the government of Pakistan has taken a step to plug the leakage of sensitive information. It has decided to ban official use of BlackBerry cellphones.
The Business Recorder news item based on information revealed from the Interior Ministry gives more details.
Authentic reports suggest that the Indian government is attempting to acquire the capability of intercepting transmissions in the hope of extracting sensitive information. Pakistan Armed Forces ie Army, Air Force and Pakistan Navy have already banned the use of Blackberry for official business. “Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Ministry of Information Technology and Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs are backing this proposal,” sources added.
This ban must be viewed in the context of WikiLeaks revelations that shook the world including Pakistan through the release of thousands of secret cables sent by US embassies to the State Department. The sources said it has been observed that some federal and provincial departments’ functionaries are using BlackBerry cell phones for communication of official voice/data.
About the problems with BlackBerry,
There are following two fundamental problems in the use of BlackBerry: (i) Its encryption/decryption keys are controlled by a foreign-based company. Therefore, a subscriber using BlackBerry is outside our communication security regime and; (ii) the moment a BlackBerry is switched on, it is automatically connected to the Internet. Voice/data being transmitted by the set is thus available to interested/hostile parties based abroad and can, therefore, be used/exploited for ulterior motives. In fact, a BlackBerry is a security threat even if it is in an idle state.
The Cabinet Division has recommended PM Gillani that BlackBerry poses a threat to national security and needs to be banned immediately.
Sources said the Cabinet Division has recommended that any communication which has control outside Pakistan should not be used in view of high risk of cyber espionage. Since BlackBerry is a brand of a foreign company whose services are controlled from outside Pakistan its use by government functionaries at all levels for official business poses a credible threat to national security and needs to be banned immediately, sources quoted the Cabinet Division as recommending to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.