I saw this tweet about VPNs just now, and it has got me really worried. Yes, please do prioritize addressing this, as mentioned in the tweet. Please consider coordinating with other like-minded digital rights organizations so that there is a concerted push-back on any attempt to ban the use of VPN’s. IMO, businesses are not going to accept a blanket ban on VPNs, so we may end up in a bad situation where it will be banned only for ordinary citizens. @aparatbar
Thank you sir, we have been working on this over the past two days. From our study of the parliamentary process with @Rohin_Garg two actions arise.
- Increasing legislative awareness on digital rights : The first is to widen the participation within the submissions and depositions to the Standing Committee on Home Affairs specifically from technologists and digital rights organisations. This is because the Committee has a continuing mandate on Women and Child Safety for which it is quite often commenting on issues of cyber crime and use of surveillance and censorship technologies. We hope that such engagement can help prevent such recommendations that do not fully appreciate rights based implications. This is more of a long term goal.
- Preventing a VPN Ban : The second is to write to the MHA given the recommendations by the Standing Committee will be actioned by them. We will draw concern and call for a public consultation on the issue prior to any steps being taken.
As always, thank you so much for flagging this to us. We rely on feedback and listening to our community to help improve our work. If you have any other ideas on what we can do, we would be happy to consider them.
Thank you @aparatbar for the detailed response; your strategy makes sense.
My primary concern is not that there will be an outright ban on VPNs (business interests will not permit this) but that suddenly some rules may get notified, that create barriers to VPN use by ordinary citizens (eg., link VPN subscription to some ID etc.). As we have seen in the case of the IT rules 2021, once put in place, it is a long process to get illegal and unconstitutional rules struck down.
So any outreach work that can help you assess how serious the risk is and then try to mitigate it, would be helpful.
Also, it may be good to sensitise people to the value of a good VPN (for honest law-abiding citizens!). For example a Cybersec Charcha article along the lines of: “Businesses have been using VPN for a long time and why you should to” may help raise awareness.