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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs wants the Indian government to ban VPN services in the country, alleging that such services” allow criminals to remain anonymous online.”

Virtual Private Networks(VPNs) are used by different people for different purposes. Many use it to stream stuff that isn’t available in India, and then some use it for illegal things as well. VPN allows a user to stay anonymous on the Internet and do anything and everything that can be done on the web. Because of the risks and the disadvantages, it brings for the authorities in identifying a user.

Committee recommends permanently blocking VPN services in the country with the help of internet service providers in India. The committee has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to coordinate with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to identify and permanently block VPNs.

Apart from coordinating internally, the report states that the committee wants the government to set up a coordination mechanism with international agencies to ensure that these VPNs are blocked permanently. It also adds that the Ministry should strengthen the tracking and surveillance mechanisms to put a check on the use of VPN and the dark web.

What is the ban about?

The request from the parliamentary committee comes as 31 Members of Parliament found that VPNs provide significant challenges for authorities to nab criminals and thwart “cyber security walls.”

“The Committee notes with anxiety the technological challenge posed by VPN services and Dark Web, that can bypass cyber security walls and allow criminals to remain anonymous online. As of date, VPN can easily be downloaded, as many websites are providing such facilities and advertising them.”

Why the ban could spell trouble for Indian Companies?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Indian companies into making transformational changes to their work, Cultures, more specifically via the adoption of work-from-home models. The switch to work-from-home models has yielded a massive spike in the use of VPNs as reflected in the analysis showed that during the first half of  2021, install of VPNs in India reached 348.7 million- a growth of 671 per cent over the previous year.

India had shown the highest country-wise growth around the world and placed India as the fourth-highest VPN adopter in the World behind only Qatar, the UAE and Singapore.

Having had to forego their internal server systems-in-built with their specific security and encryption infrastructure, Indian companies have increasingly turned to VPNs to safeguard sensitive data being shared within an organisation, VPN provides anonymity and privacy to a company. In fact, In June 2021, acknowledging the growing value of VPNs to Indians, the central government eased norms on VPN use to help employees work from home during a public health emergency.

If indeed, the central government decides to move on the recommendations of the committee, it could deal a significant blow to several Indian companies that have now come to rely on VPNs to protect sensitive client data.

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