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Use of VPNs in India spiking because of blocked websites, experts say ban proposal will not help users – India Today

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Indians are familiar with sharing Netflix accounts. One account, four users. Now, the same Indians are looking to share the cost of virtual private networks (VPNs) as increasingly they pay for VPN accounts. The reasons are several. There are thousands of websites that are now banned in India, using opaque and official or unofficial means. To access many of these websites, Indian users are now turning to VPNs. Then, there is the safety and surveillance aspect. As cybercrimes, identity thefts and the risks of surveillance grow in India, users are turning to VPNs.

Here is a number: According to data extracted from Google Play Store and Apple App Store using Sensor Tower service, India ranked fourth among 85 countries in the VPN penetration rate for the first half of 2021. India’s VPN installation penetration went up from only 3.28 per cent population in 2020 to 25.27 per cent in the first six months of 2021.

But beyond the numbers, there are stories. A group of friends was looking for a fourth member to share their Virtual Private Network (VPN) account with. Even before I could say yes to my part of the contribution, they had found someone else.

Though soon, another friend approached with a similar proposal, asking me if I wanted to share an account with her. That is just how popular and useful VPNs are now deemed in India. While a lot of VPN use is to access streaming content that is geographically locked out of India, that’s not the only reason why Indians are now using VPNs.

A tech enthusiast, on the condition of anonymity, says that user information can be stolen even from poorly configured private WiFi, let alone public WiFi, which is next level insecure. Because the data travelling through VPN is encrypted, it helps during banking transactions as it cannot be snooped from unsecured websites from internet connections.
Now that there is talk of banning VPNs in India, there is a fear among users that it would lead to inconvenience. At the same time, experts say that banning VPNs is no solution because there are many more different methods that cybercriminals for their activities. Last month, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs noted that the use of VPNs should be banned in India. Here is how a VPN works.

A VPN user says that the ban proposal is ridiculous. “Today they want to block VPNs citing crime, next they would want to disable password protection on phones as criminals use passwords on their phones to hide evidence,” says the person.

Why do people use VPNs

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Source: https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/features/story/use-of-vpns-in-india-spiking-because-of-blocked-websites-experts-say-ban-proposal-will-not-help-users-1866073-2021-10-18

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