VPN ban in India, a question of sovereignty
India’s parliament and home minister are considering a VPN ban in India. Beyond the moldy arguments that we put out on the protection of privacy, it is above all a question of sovereignty.
For the past week, we have seen a particular buzz around VPNs in India. A committee of parliament are considering a VPN ban even though they haven’t provided a date or even if the law will be passed. Globally, VPN use has exploded, especially since 2020 when hundreds of millions of people were forced to work online from home.
It required a secure connection and we must not forget that India had the foolish idea of imposing lockdown overnight. At that time, the VPN was used extensively by Indian workers and the government even encouraged it and now they want to ban it a year later. What happened ?
Well, we found that the VPN promotes illegal activity. Piracy, which is a major problem in India, has exploded with the use of VPNs as it makes it easy to break geo-restrictions. More importantly, it also encouraged the emergence of black markets on the Dark Web where cyber criminals could operate with impunity. However, this is still a minority compared to all the benefits, in terms of safety, that it brings to workers.
There is one thing that cannot be denied about the Indian government is that it does not negotiate with his sovereignty. When using VPNs, the data is certainly encrypted, but it goes through servers that are outside the national territory. This was the case before, but with the lockdown, government institutes used VPNs and their data went through foreign servers.
This is the main reason Russia has banned VPNs. The VPN is not sovereign. His role is to flee national restrictions and therefore, for him, the ideal world must be without borders. Of course, you can say that your ideal home should not have any doors or windows and so all the poop flies can get in, but that’s your opinion.
India has been trying to reclaim its digital sovereignty for years. Given one of the most connected countries in the world with the price of the connection per gigabyte which is cheaper than a cup of tea, we have seen the example of sovereignty with the Uber case, but also Internet.org, this abomination launched by Facebook to offer a “free internet”, but only on authorized applications. In short, an internet for the poor.
Then, the argument that using a VPN gives you impeccable security is as stupid as saying that an armored door will protect you while your house walls are made of paper. We can no longer count the number of vulnerabilities discovered in VPNs with the data of millions of users who have soared into the wild.
The VPN provides some security for individuals. It is a consumer tool for consumer safety. But digital security and sovereignty at the national level cannot be based on a tool that costs 10 dollars a month.