An Indian parliament proposal to block virtual private networks (VPNs) will seriously hinder the ability of companies in the country to do business, according to a leading figure in India’s internet sector.

Firms across all segments of the economy have switched to using VPNs to enable secure work-from-home ever since the coronavirus pandemic first struck India in April 2020.

But the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs is proposing the networks are banned on the grounds of internet security and combatting cybercrime.

“The committee notes with anxiety the technological challenge posed by VPN services and dark web that can bypass cyber security walls and allow criminals to remain anonymous online,” the Hindu BusinessLine newspaper reported.

“The committee … recommends that a coordination mechanism be developed with international agencies to ensure that these VPNs are blocked permanently.”

A former president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India, Amitabh Singhal said: “It’s a very strange and hare-brained idea to block VPNs. It is going to be counter-productive especially for businesses.

“During Covid most organisations, domestic or global, worked from home. All have been using VPNs to secure their network for conducting businesses remotely.

“To ban VPN will set a bad precedent and destroy the internet as a medium to conduct business safely … How do you expect companies depending on the internet to conduct their global and local businesses securely while working under this ban?”

Singhal, director of Telxess Consulting Services, also said: “There are better ways for the government to ensure safety. The committee is just using the ploy of security to clamp down on something. I don’t think this is a valid argument just because some anti-social elements use VPNs to hide their identity.”

He added: “Cyber security will always be a challenge and the government will have to continue to find ways and use its resources to enhance technical capabilities for tracking such crimes.”


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