VPN Providers Abandon India Amid Privacy Crackdown

As expected, India’s new privacy regulations are leading to a mass exodus of VPN providers....
VPN Providers Abandon India Amid Privacy Crackdown
Written by Matt Milano
  • As expected, India’s new privacy regulations are leading to a mass exodus of VPN providers.

    India introduced legislation to force VPN providers to capture and collect customer data, defeating the very purpose of why many use VPN services. Many companies threatened to leave the country if the legislation passed, and they are now following through, according to Wired.

    “As digital privacy and security advocates, we are concerned about the possible effect this regulation may have on not only our users but people’s data in general,” says a NordVPN spokesperson. “From what it seems, the amount of stored private information will be drastically increased throughout hundreds or maybe thousands of different companies.” She adds that similar regulations have been “typically introduced by authoritarian governments in order to gain more control over their citizens.”

    Despite India having the highest VPN adoption rate last year, or perhaps because of it, the government began moving to force VPN providers to collect customer data. The government has tried to reassure the industry and its citizens that it would only take advantage of that data collection on a case-by-case basis. Many are not convinced, however, given India’s history of surveilling activists, critics, and political rivals.

    “VPNs by nature can be a privacy advancing tool and can be capable of protecting information security in multiple ways, being used by individuals and companies to secure confidential information,” says Tejasi Panjiar, Internet Freedom Foundation associate policy counsel. “They also help secure digital rights under the constitution, especially for journalists and whistleblowers, because the nature of information that’s transferred over VPNs is primarily encrypted, which allows them not only to secure confidential information but also to safeguard their own identity, protecting them from surveillance and censorship.”

    NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark have all taken steps to remove their servers from India while still providing ways for Indian customers to connect to their VPN services.

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