Indian Government working on a bill that could ban all VPN services in the country
Over the past year, the Indian Government has been relatively liberal with its all-powerful banhammer. After banning hundreds of Chinese-origin apps for 'national security' reasons, it has now shifted focus to VPNs. A future bill (via MediaNama) could ban all VPN services in the country outright. Once passed, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will be working ISPs and authorities to identify and block VPN services.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs is of the opinion that only cybercriminals use VPNs to 'access the dark web,' completely neglecting the fact that VPNs have other legitimate uses. It is unclear as to what qualifies as a VPN in the eye of the proposed law. Then again, it is in the early stages of inception, and the actual bill is nowhere close to ready just yet. Additionally, it has to pass both houses of the Indian parliament.
Currently, VPNs are somewhat of a legal grey area in India. One can easily download and use commercial VPNs in the country. However, the Indian Government doesn't encourage you to use one because they let you access blocked websites. A blanket ban will generate a lot of backlash from the country's booming IT sector because VPNs are integral to any company's network.
Lastly, the technical challenges associated with the ban are staggering. Even if there are provisions for enterprise-grade VPNs, banning all the 'non-commercial' ones is nigh impossible. At best, the Indian Government can ban prominent players and the 'free' VPN apps on the Play Store and call it a day. One can still get around the restrictions by building their own VPN from scratch, which is surprisingly straightforward with the proper guidance.