VPN use in India to soar likely, as users get 3-yr jail warning on banned sites

|August 23, 2016 0

Soma Tah

Thousands of websites are currently blocked in India, but visiting those ‘blocked URLs’ were not punishable. But not any more, it seems.

Indian government, assisted by internet service providers(ISP), reportedly has issued a new warning to those who visit forbidden websites in India: the offenders may get a 3-year jail sentence plus a fine of Rs 3 lakh.

No official statement has not been issued yet in this regard, however. But the new warning implies that one doesn’t have to even download a copyrighted material -­ simply accessing a banned website could result in the penalty.

On visiting such blocked URLs, users often will get the following warning message:

“This URL has been blocked under the instructions of the competent government authority or in compliance with the orders of a court of competent jurisdiction. Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents under this URL is punishable as an offence under the laws of India, including but not limited to under sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for three years and also fine of upto Rs 3,00,000.”

Last year, the department of Electronics and Information Technology has asked the Department of Telecom to notify ISPs to block access to 857 URLs by order no. 813-7/25/2011-DS (Vol.-V), but revoked later.

In 2014 also, DoT ordered ISPs to block 32 websites, including Vimeo, Dailymotion, GitHub and Pastebin, many of which have nothing to do with torrent downloads, but possibly contain pornographic content.

Very recently, media reports claimed that DoT has directed ISPs to block around 240 URLs offering escort services.

Simultaneously, banning torrent sites is ­ another move that has been strongly lobbied by Bollywood filmmakers. Bollywood lawyers choose the websites to be banned without any clear criteria or reasons ­ and courts usually approve them. But, torrent websites are also used by independent artist to popularize their content, and many other purposes: such as distributing data by corporations as well.

In this scenario, NordVPN has even predicted a rise likely in VPN usage, as VPNs are more secure from detection.

“The threat of new punishments for accessing forbidden sites can turn India into one of the biggest markets for VPN (Virtual Private Network) service providers in the world.”

A VPN links a user’s computer to a server in a country of their choice via encrypted tunnel ­ for example, a person can appear to be in the U.S., while they actually are in India, and vice versa, simply by choosing a different VPN server location. Therefore, a user can choose to access the banned sites through a country where these sites are allowed.

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