Parliamentary Committee reportedly wants to ban VPN services: Why it should worry India Inc

by Emma

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VPNs or virtual private networks encrypt data while online and also hide the user’s IP address. (Photo credit: Reuters)

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has reportedly proposed the banning of VPN service in India, citing threat to cybersecurity. According to the House panel’s proposal, VPNs allowed criminals to create an anonymous presence online and India needed to develop a coordination mechanism to permanently block the service.

VPNs or virtual private networks encrypt data while online and also hide the user’s IP (Internet Protocol) address. The latter allows users to log on to blocked sites. The service also hides online identity even when on a public WiFi network.

Apart from enabling users to log on to blocked sites, VPN services also help most companies in the country secure their digital assets. VPNs became the most useful tool to facilitate seamless transition to work from during the Covid-induced lockdowns.

According to the House panel, technological challenges of the Dark Web and VPN services can bypass cyber security and enable criminals to retain their anonymity online. It said many websites advertise VPN services, which can be easily downloaded.

The panel recommended a coordinated effort between the Union Home Ministry and the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to identify and block such VPNs. The panel has also recommended taking the help of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) for the purpose. Effectively, the committee has urged the Union government to act against VPN services sheltering criminals.

The Union Home Ministry must act to strengthen tracking and surveillance by improving and developing state-of-the-art technology and put a check on VPN and the Dark Web, the House panel said in its report submitted to Rajya Sabha on August 10.

The proposal will be a worry for corporations in India as it would impact their data security. If the government does follow the House panel’s suggestions and blocks VPN services in the country, it could be a huge cause for concern for IT companies remotely running operations, banks conducting online transactions online.

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