BlackBerry delays Pakistan shutdown as talks on govt access continue

Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:36am EST
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By Katharine Houreld

ISLAMABAD Nov 30 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd will delay shutting down its operations in Pakistan until Dec. 30 as negotiations continue over government demands for access to users' private data, the company and the telecoms authority said on Monday.

The state-run Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had in July demanded BlackBerry give it access to its BlackBerry Enterprise Services, which encrypt data such as emails and instant messages, or shut it down by Nov. 30.

The PTA on Monday then suggested a one-month extension to that deadline, its chairman Syed Ismail Shah said. BlackBerry also confirmed the extension in a statement on its website.

"The level of access is still under discussion," Shah said. "We can extend the deadline and they can continue to work until then."

Pakistan has said it needs access to maintain its security, with police saying criminals use secure communications like those provided by BlackBerry. Analysts say the government is increasing electronic surveillance to target activists, politicians and journalists. (Editing by Miral Fahmy)