VPN Companies to Exist India as Government Orders to Share Data

VPN companies to exist India as government orders to share data
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VPN companies to exist in India as government orders to share data

The Narendra Modi-led administration ordered businesses that provide virtual private network VPN companies to gather and keep, for up to five years, user data, including names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and IP addresses. In accordance with the new regulations, VPN companies must provide this information to the government upon request, and any business that fails to do so risks fines or the imprisonment of its executives.

The government stated that the action was taken in an effort to “organize response efforts as well as emergency measures with respect to cyber security incidents” and remedy “certain loopholes” that impede the management of cyber risks.

Security experts believe that this directive may be intended for state-sponsored spying in addition to defeating the purpose of VPN companies. According to at least five cybersecurity specialists and advocates for digital rights who spoke with the Rest of the World, the new rule might breach people’s privacy. They voiced worry about the security of the data and how it might be abused in light of the new directive and the lack of a data protection framework.

“The government must provide evidence to support its claims that it would improve cybersecurity.” According to Tejas Pannier, Capstone Fellow at the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), a New Delhi-based digital rights advocacy group, it currently appears that an excessive data retention policy will result in state-sponsored mass surveillance, and that’s even in the absence of a data protection law.

By hiding the IP address of the user’s device, encrypting the data, and sending it over secure networks in other states or countries, a VPN enables internet browsing while protecting the user’s information. Journalists and activists frequently use VPN companies to get around restrictions and browse the internet securely.

Additionally, VPNs are used by users on open or unprotected networks. One of the most popular applications of VPN in India is to access pornographic websites, many of which were outlawed by the Modi administration in 2019.

VPN companies to exist India as government orders to share data

In order to gather and preserve data that “may eventually be used for targeted surveillance on journalists, lawyers, and activists,” Srinivas Kodali, a researcher with the advocacy group Free Software Movement of India, believes that the government is paying VPN service providers to do so.

The Modi administration’s emphasis on monitoring is not new. According to a 2019 analysis by the U.K.-based research company Compare tech, India is one of the top three nations where governments aggressively monitor their citizens. An international journalists’ investigation known as the Pegasus Project last year found that the Indian government had been eavesdropping on 300 people, including well-known journalists, activists, and politicians.
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Additionally, the Indian government has put in place methods to collect biometric information, such as facial recognition software. After civilians were killed in Kashmir, which is administered by India, the government ordered Srinagar’s business owners to install security cameras. According to a report published in 2019,

New Delhi has 33 closed-circuit TV cameras per 1,000 residents. Additionally, the Indian government has begun GPS tracking of sanitation and medical staff, which raises severe concerns about employee privacy.

In the meantime, VPN usage among Indians has grown significantly. Before 2021, the VPN companies penetration rate in India was just over 3 percent, according to a 2021 report by international VPN service Atlas VPN. The figures skyrocketed, with 348.7 million VPN installations in the first half of 2021—a 671 percent increase over 2020.

Due to the current rules’ huge increase in operational costs, India may become less appealing to VPN service providers. According to news website Untrack, Nord VPN, one of the biggest VPN companies in the world, may leave India as a result of the new regulations. According to a report in Wired, Proton VPN’s spokesperson said that they are monitoring the situation and would “remain committed to our no-logs policy and preserving our users’ privacy.”

Other service providers, such as Express VPN, Surf shark, and Proton VPN, may not adhere to the Indian government’s regulations.

Regardless of whether VPNs abide by the new regulations or leave the country,

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