BlackBerry
Pakistan could be worried that gangs and terrorists will use BlackBerry phones to chat in secret. But groups like Privacy International suspect the move to block BlackBerry could be intended to widen the ISI's spying activitiesReuters

Pakistan will block BlackBerry email services in the country from November for "security reasons".

While ordering local carriers to shut off BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) from 30 November, the country's telecommunication authority did not specify reasons.

BlackBerry's email service BES is encrypted to ensure the messages cannot be intercepted.

The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed senior official at the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, said the "remaining BB [BlackBerry] services such as messenger and BlackBerry Internet Services" would continue.

Pakistan could be worried that gangs and terrorists will use BlackBerry phones to chat in secret, says Reuters.

However, groups like Privacy International (PI) warn that the move will merely help increase public surveillance in the name of security.

It will move users to other users like Apple which offer secure messaging.

PI notes Pakistan's military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was seeking to expand its ability to intercept communications. The move to block BlackBerry could be a step in that direction.

"Pakistan's intelligence agencies have abused their communications surveillance powers, including by spying on opposition politicians and Supreme Court judges. Widespread internet monitoring and censorship has also been used to target journalists, lawyers and activists," a recent PI report said.

In 2013, the ISI tapped all internet protocol(IP)-bound communications traffic entering or traversing through Pakistan, by tapping communications at the fibre optic cable level.

The agency hired 200 analysts to monitor up to 5,000 concurrent targets, says PI.

Security-related surveillance may also be behind the move to block BlackBerry services. With militant attacks shifting to cities, as seen from the Peshawar massacre and shootouts at a wedding, the government is resorting to security measures that are seen as a necessary evil, much like the US drone attacks.