VLC Media Player Returned India After Ban Lifted From VideoLan

VLC Media Player Returned India After Ban Lifted From VideoLan

VLC Media Player (VLC) is finally back in India. India possesses the highest number of users of this media player. The non-profit organization that runs VLC, VideoLAN.org, sent a legal notice to the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) a few days prior to their URL for VLC download being blocked. Owing to this, there was also a 10%-12% decrease in site visitors.

Kempf mentioned in response to a query,

"Since the blocking, the download rates from our website are now 10% compared to our previous downloads in India.”

As per the legal notice, their website remained blocked Since March 2022. The company had protested against the lack of transparency in government orders. They had even asked the government to provide the order and an opportunity to defend their case.

Jean-Baptiste Kempf, president of VideoLAN and lead developer of the VLC Media Player clarified through an email a couple of months back that they ultimately want their website to be unblocked, VLC downloads resumed, and will wait for two weeks for the government’s response. In the legal notice, the president had also threatened to take legal action against the government in case a copy of the order is not furnished and offers a virtual hearing.

VLC Media Player creator stated in response to a query,

“I have no idea about the Indian political situation, but what I don't understand is the lack of transparency and the lack of explanations given to us.”

In the legal notice, Kempf mentioned that irrespective of the fact that the website had been blocked for more than six months, they have not been conveyed the reasons for this blockage. As per the Blocking Rules, Rule 8 of the IT Rules 2009 and a Supreme Court Ruling, the government officials who issue blocking orders are required to notify such a person and offer a hearing before the concerned authority.

Why Did The VideoLAN Ban Take Place?

Back In October, MeitY had sent a letter to the VLC Media Player creating company, where they mentioned the reasons for the ban. The primary reason for the ban mentioned in the letter was that the company VideoLAN was communicating with the servers of an already banned app named Onmyoji Arena. The latter was banned in India for allegedly transferring user data to a hostile country.

The letter further mentioned that the ministry makes use of open-source threat intelligence reports for its findings. As per the ministry, VLC Media Player had been used by a China-backed hacking group named ‘Cicada’ in order to carry out cyber attacks. Thus, the company had been banned under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act. However, in reply to this letter, VideoLAN denied the allegations of the Chinese hackers using VLC Media Player.

Latest News On The Return Of VLC Media Player

On the 14th of November 2022, MeitY has lifted the ban from the VideoLAN website. This permits the users to easily download the VLC Media Player or conduct free VLC download, the popular media-streaming player. VideoLAN has also made an announcement on Twitter stating,

"We have news! VLC Media Player is back!"

On Monday, MeitY sent a legal letter to VideoLAN stating that it has decided to withdraw the ban. Following the removal of the ban, an announcement by VideoLAN stated,

“VLC Media Player has nearly 80 million Indian users and by blocking the primary avenue for authentic downloads and updates, the ban left us all considerably less secure on the internet than we were before.”

After the ban was lifted, The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) took to Twitter to post.

IFF has also mentioned in the same tweet thread,

According to Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the ban was somewhat ironic and shocking as the Indian Government had supported the platform as a part of the Digital India Initiative.

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Nandini Prashad

If you love technology then you will surely love Nandini Prashad. She is a tech freak and expresses her expertise via her blogs. They are worth reading.

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