Indian Home Ministry wants to ban VPN, Is that Relevant?

Indian Home Ministry wants to ban VPN, Is that Relevant

Virtual private networks (VPNs) and the Dark Web, according to the committee, can circumvent cyber security barriers and allow criminals to remain anonymous online.

The Standing Committee on Home Affairs of the Indian Parliament has requested that the government outlaw the usage of virtual private networks (VPNs) across the country. Belarus, China, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries that have done so.

In response to cyber risks, the Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended the government restrict VPN applications all over India. According to the plan, VPNs allow criminals to remain anonymous online, hence India must build a coordinating mechanism to permanently disable VPNs.

Here’s all you need to know about the anticipated VPN ban.

  • According to the committee, technological obstacles provided by VPN services and the Dark Web can allow criminals to circumvent cyber security barriers and remain anonymous online.
  • VPNs are easy to download because many websites offer and advertise them, according to the report.
  • The committee advises that the Ministry of Home Affairs work with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to identify and permanently disable such VPNs with the support of internet service providers, according to the committee. As a result, the committee has effectively requested that the Centre take action against VPNs that serve as safe havens for criminals.
  • According to the committee, technological obstacles provided by VPN services and the Dark Web can allow criminals to circumvent cyber security barriers and remain anonymous online.
  •  VPNs are easy to download because many websites offer and advertise them, according to the report.
  • The committee advises that the Ministry of Home Affairs work with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to identify and permanently disable such VPNs with the support of internet service providers, according to the committee. As a result, the committee has effectively requested that the Centre take action against VPNs that serve as safe havens for criminals.

So, who are the people who are most likely to be affected?

Popular VPN services such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and IPVanish provide customers with online anonymity and allow them to access restricted websites. When the popular smartphone game PUBG was banned in India last year, VPNs became all the rage.

These are frequently used to watch everything from Netflix content in other countries to hidden websites on the dark web, as well as pornographic websites such as Pornhub, Xvideos, and Youporn, all of which are banned in India.

In fact, according to data from Atlas VPN, India has the greatest percentage of VPN adoption.

Even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot cannot match the level of privacy provided by VPNs. Companies also utilise these to allow their remote employees to log in to the company network from wherever while keeping company data secure via the encrypted network.

So, would the VPN ban have an impact on remote work?

“We believe the ban is directed primarily at VPN companies that help Indians avoid the country’s present internet restrictions in order to engage in illicit conduct. We also believe the government would allow corporations that follow Indian data privacy laws,” Ashara added.

Is it possible to prohibit VPN use?

VPNs can, in fact, be forbidden. “The government would issue an order to ISPs to disable commonly used VPN programmes and ports that are already active,” according to the report. Furthermore, less technically savvy ISPs will have trouble imposing a blanket ban on VPN services,” said Darshit Ashara, Associate Vice President of CloudSEK’s research team.

“In today’s technological context, a popular technique known as “Deep Packet Inspection” can be utilised to do this. Techniques such as IP address or port blocking can also be used. Reliance Jio has previously been caught employing SNI-based filtering to ban websites,” Ashara continued.

What is the rationale behind the planned VPN ban?

The committee warned the Rajya Sabha about the dangers of VPNs, which can “bypass cyber security walls and allow criminals to remain anonymous online.”

VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, ensuring that your virtual identity is protected. Your online actions are hidden from the websites you visit as well as your Internet service providers. However, the primary goal of VPNs is to protect you from third-party tracking and data theft while you’re online.

The committee recommended that, in addition to working with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and internet service providers (ISPs) to detect and ban VPNs, a coordination mechanism with international authorities be devised to ensure that VPNs are permanently blocked. It also recommended the government to improve tracking and surveillance capabilities in order to maintain a lid on VPN and dark web use. The dark web is a collection of hidden websites that can only be viewed via a specialised web browser. These websites are meant to keep online activities private and anonymous. The dark web, like VPNs, can be used for lawful and illicit purposes.

Will the ban be impenetrable?

The work of verifying that the ban is in place would be more significant than the procedure of blocking VPNs in the country, Ashara stressed. Individuals can find ways to circumvent VPN bans in the same way they can circumvent bans on apps like PUBG Mobile. “Even if less sophisticated individuals can avoid prohibitions, we’re talking about a cybercriminal who is technically strong or at the very least knowledgeable,” Ashara explained.

De A R B I N R
Business Journalist

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