BlackBerry Internet Service Still Down in Pakistan

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that Pakistan had blocked the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS). Well, the service is still blocked and now India has given Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), Google, and Skype an ultimatum: give us backdoor access into users data or we will throw you out of the country. The real question with all of this is why Pakistan and India are cracking down on communication and the freedom of information?

Pakistan instituted a ban on Facebook a while ago after it came to light that a “Draw Mohammed Day” page was on the social networking site. All depictions of the prophet Mohammed are prohibited in Islam and most Muslims found the page highly offensive. Pakistan then directed the public’s anger into something it could use; an excuse to institute mass censorship of the internet. Since BIS does not allow for the blocking of individual URLs, service providers have been forced to simply disable the service. Of course, they are still charging customers for it.

India is a bit different. Since the United States is not blowing stuff up in the country on a regular basis like with Pakistan, you might wonder why the country feels the need to invade the privacy of individuals and is targeting just these companies. It turns out that part of the reason why is because RIM, Skype and Google are foreign companies. Hey! But RIM and Google are based in North America and both the United States and Canada have very friendly relations with the second most populated country in the world right? Yes, but it looks like India is pulling a page from China’s book. By making it harder for foreign companies to do business, they hope to help boost their domestic tech companies. I doubt it will work—free markets, the invisible hand and all that economic theory—and it leaves the country without three of the most popular methods of internet based communication available.

Let me know what you think.

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