VLC media player banned in India. But why?
VideoLan's VLC media player is famous for its ability to play any video that you throw at it. However, the company was ill-prepared to deal with the Indian government's decision to ban the popular media player. Interestingly, it has been banned in the country since February 13, but no one seems to know why. The question remains, why did the government ban VLC?
- The Indian government has been on a crusade to block/ban anything and everything with Chinese connections. This mission blanketed by national security has seen several popular apps getting banned.
- VLC's ban, however, seems to have riled up many. The government's lack of clarity in banning the app and consequent silence may have played a huge part in that.
The Indian government is yet to officially announce the ban on the VLC media player. An attempt by the Internet Freedom Foundation to obtain information about the same was in vain. It filed an RTI application with the Department of Telecommunications, which then transferred it to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The ministry responded, "no information is available."
Rumor has it that the Indian government banned VLC because it identified potential links between the app and the Chinese hacking group Cicada. Cicada is believed to be behind several cyber attacks in countries such as India, the US, Canada, Israel, and Hong Kong, among others. Apparently, Cicada hacks computers by installing malicious malware through the VLC player.
When asked about the ban, Jean-Baptise Kemp, the President of VideoLan said that government is yet to reply to the company's questions. VideoLan also took to Twitter asking for help. It wrote, "if you are in India, please help us." In a reply to another tweet, it said, "we don't collect info, we don't require user accounts, we don't spy on people."
There is some confusion regarding VLC's accessibility in India. Although it is banned, users who have already installed can still use VLC. This is because the media player can work without servers after installation. The ban, however, means that the company's website cannot be accessed by some. At the same time, due to the variations in ISPs, the website is still accessible to others.