VPN providers bid adieu to India in protest against new data rules

New Delhi, September 26 (KMS): In protest against Modi government’s anti-digital policies, Virtual private network (VPN) providers have started leaving India, resulting in restricted or no access to many websites, critical of Hindutva agenda of the BJP government in India and occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including Kashmir Media Service, a reputed media organization.

The latest announcement came from ProtonVPN to remove its physical servers from India. Proton and other VPN providers announced to leave India after the new data rules came into force.

These Indian data rules have been issued by the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN or ICERT) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the directives in this regard were announced by the Modi government on April 28.

“To protect the privacy of the Proton community, we are removing our VPN servers physically located in India,” the company said in a statement. The company has now shifted to Singapore. Earlier, companies such as Express VPN, Surfshark and NordVPN have already announced their exit from India.

The decision to leave India was made after CERT-In made bound all VPN providers, data centers and cloud service providers operating in the country to collect and report extensive and accurate data from their users for five years.

Under these directives, Indian VPN providers and data centers ordered to log details of user names, physical addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. It also requires the IP address used to register on a VPN, along with the timestamp. As per new data rules, VPN providers will also need to report the reason for using the VPN. This data has to be provided to CERT-In to aid investigations of “cyber security incidents”.

The new directives came into effect on Sunday “and failure to comply can lead to imprisonment for a year”.

Instead of obliging to the India’s dictatorial rules, VPN services are fleeing the country as the directives go against the core business of VPN players that follow a no-log policy. VPN service providers conceal a user’s internet usage by using multiple servers.

Interestingly, the Modi government claims that the new rules will no impact on business viability, but experts say the directives contradict the nature of services that VPNs provide, and such decisions will leave India in isolation in the digitally revolutionized world.

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