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VPN services blocked in India, says parliamentary committee

VPN services blocked in India, says parliamentary committee

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India’s permanent parliamentary committee on home affairs has asked the Indian government to ban virtual private networks, or VPNs, in the country. According to the commission, a VPN is a national security threat and cybercriminals can use it to stay anonymous and bypass security protocols.

The commission stated that VPN applications can be easily accessed through hundreds of websites that openly advertise and sell these services. It states that as these apps allow criminals to access the dark web with anonymity, tracking them becomes a technical challenge.

Hence, the committee β€œrecommends the Ministry of Interior to coordinate with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to identify and permanently block these VPNs with the help of Internet service providers.”

In the event that you are living under a stone, literally, and are not aware of what a VPN is being used for, this helps users bypass the prying eyes of their ISP or access information that is geo-locked. It is also used by organizations to protect their data by transmitting it anonymously over the Internet. The use of VPNs has skyrocketed lately thanks to employees working remotely as part of the new normal.

However, they are of the kind that are often misused by threat actors and the Commission appears to be concerned about the same. Cybercriminals, with the help of VPN, remain anonymous to access the dark web, which is the hub for all illegal activities including drugs, pornographic content, hacking and much more.

Although according to Medianama, the commission not only wants the government to cooperate with international agencies to ensure VPN services are banned in the country, but also wants the agencies to β€œstrengthen tracking and monitoring mechanisms by further improving and developing state-of-the-art technology to check VPN and dark web usage.” “

Ban on VPN – a threat to privacy?

While the commission looks from a national security perspective and thus ensures that the Internet is not used for unethical use. He wants to make sure that agencies can easily track down threatened actors and prevent them from engaging in activities that run counter to society and national interests.

However, this also gives government agencies an open license to track each individual and thus poses a serious threat to the individual’s right to privacy or personal independence.

In addition, since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the pandemic that followed, companies are forced to make remote work of their employees and even remote education replace regular education. Either way, a VPN is of crucial importance as it ensures data privacy.

Also, a VPN ban can be seen as a move to limit the free exchange of information over the Internet. Even in countries like China where surveillance is at its peak, VPNs are not illegal or prohibited. Federal agencies in the United States have also devised ways to counter cyber threats by using technology rather than VPN blocking.

In a somewhat related move, the Indian government last year banned more than 260 outlandish Chinese applications, citing reasons such as threatening national security and sovereignty. However, most of these companies have found an alternative route to operate in the country. Without a strict follow-up process in place, the decision to block apps serves no purpose.

Last but not least, the Indian Data Privacy and Security Act is about to emerge. It gives the agencies enormous power to track down individuals deemed dangerous from a national security standpoint. Combined with the ban on VPNs, this act can spell doom for individuals’ right to personal autonomy.

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